In March 2019, fresh out of the traineeship, I began a 3 month Project Archivist role at Archives & Special Collections for University of Surrey. This role allowed me to both build on my cataloguing experience I had gained at the Bodleian Libraries to create a detailed catalogue of the Geraldine Stephenson archive, and to take full ownership of a project with a strict brief and deadlines. I was also able to inform cataloguing practice and processes in the department going forward, by making suggestions which were incorporated into their guidance manuals. My 3 months in Special Collections at Surrey were a great balance of experiencing how other institutions do things differently, and developing both theoretical and practical knowledge from the traineeship. One of the things I love most about working as an archivist is that you never stop learning, as the community and best practice is always developing.
My second post as a newly qualified archivist is a return to the Bodleian Libraries’ Special Collections department at the Weston Library, in the role of Newly Qualified Project Archivist. My time is split across three to four different projects, so my week tends to be really varied. For example, I have currently finished the first edition catalogue for the Archive of Daniel Meadows, photographer and social documentarist – a project which offered up various challenges, all of which I relished, including: submitting a detailed project proposal, conservation for extensive photographic material, the separation and capture of digital material and working with various stakeholders such as Daniel Meadows himself, as well as the exhibitions department. Currently I also work as a team with two digital archivist trainees on the Bodleian Libraries’ Web Archive, which means I am able to build on technical skills and applying solutions I first learned in the traineeship.
Since qualifying, the Archives and Records Association (ARA) Section for New Professionals (SfNP) is a really valuable community I have appreciated, they organise and host seminars which are a great opportunity network and meet fellow new professionals, and offer bursaries to support newly qualified archivists.
The digital archivist traineeship equipped me with the skills and attitude needed to pursue a career in archives, and I recommend it wholeheartedly. I also feel so grateful for the traineeship providing me with experience of, and exposure to, many aspects of the sector; I draw on these experiences and learning curves in my work to date.
Kelly Burchmore, Oct 2019