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

Growing up in Glasgow, with regular visits to its many and varied cultural institutions, including the excellent Glasgow Life museums, meant I knew from a young age I wanted to work in the cultural heritage sector. However, it was my undergraduate degree in Digital Media and Information Studies that cemented this ambition more fully, and where I became particularly interested in how digital technologies can, and are, affecting the way we live, learn and work. This, combined with modules on digitisation and record management, encouraged me to pursue the Bodleian Libraries Digital Archivist traineeship to gain vital experience within the archives sector with a long-term aim of contributing to the preservation and accessibility of our past, for future users.

The traineeship has been meticulously organised to provide us with a diverse and comprehensive introduction to the many aspects of archival work; so far I have worked on collection appraisal and cataloguing on some fascinating modern political collections which has been especially engaging; worked in the reading rooms where it has been very rewarding to see our collections being used and appreciated and to help with this process; and have been working in BEAM (Bodleian Electronic Archives and Manuscripts) to extract digital materials for processing. Working in BEAM has been really exciting; as digital content becomes increasingly relevant to archival work, I feel this is somewhere we trainees can really contribute. As our training progresses, I’m looking forward to capturing and preserving a variety of digital material.

The Aberystwyth University Digital Curation diploma has been really useful in providing a theoretical basis to the work we have been doing; learning archival principles via the course and seeing how they work in practice during the traineeship has been invaluable to my development as an archivist. The best part of traineeship has to be working with my fellow trainees and our colleagues at the Weston Library, who have been incredibly helpful, introducing us to a range of archival roles and processes. It is great working alongside such passionate and knowledgeable individuals and I’ve really enjoyed my traineeship so far; it doesn’t feel like work, because everything is so interesting!

Iram Safdar, May 2019

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