An Introduction to the Graduate Trainee Digital Archivist Programme

The position of Graduate Trainee Digital Archivist within the Special Collections department of the Bodleian Libraries was a new role developed in 2014. It combines archival work with study towards a postgraduate diploma in Archives Administration.

There are currently two Graduate Trainee Digital Archivists, myself (Harriet) and Emily. A typical week for us involves:

  • Updating the Bodleian’s Collections Management Database with information from our twentieth-century accessions registers
  • Assisting the Oxfam archivists with the appraisal and cataloguing of Oxfam’s communications work
  • Invigilating in the Charles Wendell David Reading Room, where Oriental manuscripts and Commonwealth and African Archives are consulted
  • Listing, arranging, repackaging and cataloguing small collections
  • Seeking permissions for, and archiving, web sites which relate to the Bodleian’s collecting focuses
  • Working on our joint development project of improving and enhancing the Bodleian’s Collections Management Database. This involves working with a software developer to implement the necessary changes identified through consulting different users

In addition to this, we also have an afternoon a week dedicated to our studies. We use this time to work on our assignments through reading pertinent professional literature and producing reports and essays at determined intervals. As a result, we will finish our two-year contract here as qualified Archivists.

As we continue, we will also soon be involved in capturing digital collection material into the Bodleian’s Electronic Archives and Manuscripts digital repository. This will include such tasks as digitising and processing audio-visual material and ingesting and weeding data stored on deposited hardware.

For me, the best aspect of the traineeship is the variety of work we are able to do. We also have the opportunity to shape our time here to reflect the skills we wish to develop, and this has led to me assisting with certain outreach initiatives which I have really enjoyed. Furthermore, conferences, training and the Graduate Trainee sessions have introduced us to the processes and initiatives of the Bodleian, the University and the wider professional community, and helped us contextualise our work within the information management sector, as well as providing us with an understanding of the careers and opportunities available outside of and beyond the traineeship. As a result, I have been able to consider what I might like to focus on in the future, and can already see how valuable my experiences here will be when I begin my career as a professional Archivist.

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