What’s it like to be a trainee? Alice MacDonald, Graduate Trainee Digital Archivist 2017-2019

Before starting work at the Bodleian I could never have imagined just what a diverse, exciting, and welcoming place it would be to work. So far I have been involved in many varied and interesting projects including: utilising XML to re-code catalogues from EAD1 to EAD2, web archiving, processing Roy Strong’s personal archive, and answering reader enquiries to mention just a few. I even got to spend an afternoon helping one of our archivists, Catherine McIlwaine, with Tolkien’s spellbinding collection!

My decision to become an archivist has been inspired by my academic and practical trajectory to date, namely my undergraduate degree and masters in History of Art and year-long partnership undertaken at the National Railway Museum. These initial experiences cemented my passion for the material object and led me to want to learn more about its preservation through traditional and digital archiving practices.

I am thoroughly enjoying being a Trainee Digital Archivist here in Oxford. It is wonderful having the opportunity to gain practical experience of a range of collections and archive work (including the Conservative Party Archives and born-digital material), as well as studying for a postgraduate qualification in Digital Curation from Aberystwyth University. Working full time and studying is certainly a challenge but also a highly rewarding one.

I really value the knowledge and skills I have gained from the traineeship so far, the experience has certainly shown me the value of digital archiving in today’s society and I very much look forward to everything the next two years have in store.

Alice MacDonald, May 2017

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