I moved to Oxford and started working as a Graduate Trainee Digital Archivist in April 2019. I graduated in 2016 with a BA in History and English Literature and during my undergraduate studies I volunteered in a couple of different roles within the heritage sector to try and decide what career path would be the best fit for me. I decided that I was interested in working as an Archivist because it would give me the best of both worlds: working ‘behind-the-scenes’ engaging directly with historic documents, whilst still doing some public engagement and outreach work.
I came to this job with very little experience of archival work, but this hasn’t been a barrier at all because the traineeship is designed to introduce you to the basics and build on your understanding in a structured way. So far I’ve learned a range of transferable skills, including modifying XML files, arranging and cataloguing papers and ephemera, and capturing media-based archives, such as cassettes, CDs and DVDs. Once per week I also work on curating the Bodleian Libraries’ Web Archive. My work on the Web Archive has been particularly interesting, as it has been a gateway to learning about the challenges we face in trying to develop technologies and methodologies for curating and preserving the colossal amount of born-digital information that we generate every day.
Studying part-time with Aberystwyth in addition to working full-time as a trainee can sometimes be difficult, but the course readings are interesting and useful for contextualising the work that I do in my day-to-day job. Oxford has so many beautiful libraries to explore that even finding somewhere new to settle down and do my readings feels like a bit of an adventure!
Working as a trainee in Special Collections at the Bodleian Libraries is extremely rewarding. It gives me the opportunity to handle some fascinating and unique collections and to work with supportive colleagues who really love their work. I can’t wait to see what the next year has in store.
Hannah Jordan, May 2019