Alice Zamboni, Weston Library

My name is Alice and I am a graduate trainee digital archivist based in the Modern Archives and Manuscripts department at the Weston Library. My traineeship runs over two years and, at the time of writing, I am already six months into my job. Prior to the traineeship, I completed a PhD in art history. Whilst working on my thesis, I spent a considerable amount of time in rare materials reading rooms studying early modern Dutch books and works on paper, so that working in Special Collections provides continuity with my research background but also new learning opportunities.

Indeed, the focus of my traineeship is on born-digital archives, which offers me a great chance to expand my expertise beyond the 17th century and gain technical skills that are especially valuable in the field of digital preservation. For example, I am learning all about web archiving in order to be able to manage and curate the ever-growing collection of websites hosted on the Bodleian Libraries Web Archive. I also contribute to a catalogue retroconversion project, for which I use extensible mark-up language (XML) to transform analogue catalogues from the Oxford University Archives into machine-readable documents. My favourite part of the job thus far is cataloguing: I enjoy the process of describing archival materials and learning about how to make these descriptions accessible and discoverable in the online catalogue.

For now, my job takes place entirely behind the scenes, in an office on the third floor of the Weston which I share with Miranda, the other trainee archivist. This is a picture of my favourite part of the building. It is the reference collection on the first floor, with the bookshelves behind a glass wall in a gallery from which one can admire the inner structure of the whole building.


A view of the open-shelf reference collection in the Weston Library
A view of the open-shelf reference collection in the Weston Library


What I most enjoy about the Weston Library as a workplace is the way in which it brings together spaces and opportunities for research, public engagement and the display of special collections. In the future, I would like to be able to combine cataloguing activity with some collection-based teaching and research, and I hope the archives traineeship is a first step in that direction.

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