14 Jun 2011

Questions from #AskArchivists day!

A couple of places have noted the questions they were asked and it makes interesting reading! Here are two examples. In other news the University of Exeter Heritage Collections and Culture Services which includes Special Collections, the Bill Douglas Centre and Arts & Culture are now on twitter! Follow them @UoEHeritageColl

The Bodleian

We have compiled our Twitter answers to #AskArchivists Day questions here; you can find further #AskArchivists Day questions and responses by searching Twitter for the hashtag #AskArchivists.

Q: We're a music archive and we're curious: Which of all archives participating in #AskArchivists Day have music in their collections?
A: We do, although our music curator is unavailable today. See our music pages for a bit of basic info.

Q: To all #archives - What are your main reasons for #digitisation? #Genealogy? Preservation?
A: Lots - preservation and expanding access 2 big ones. See our digital collections pages for some examples.

Q: What's your favourite item in your archive?
A: The OU archivist says his favourite item is 1636 Uni statutes issued by Archbishop Laud.

Q: What's the most underused UK resource for research into everyday life in the Middle Ages?
A: Local land documents in county archives, for brave readers with high boredom thresholds?

Q: What's the biggest influence that your archive has had on public life?
A: We work hard to acquire, preserve & share archives of international value - from political to personal!
A: Our Conservative Party Archive helps promote democracy & encourage political accountability

Q: Is there a book or blog to explain how to use archives? E.g. when I don't know what box to order bec. I only know the topic.
A: Best way: look @ catalogue if available or email for advice - see our Special Collections catalogues & Special Collections 'Planning a Visit' for more info

Q: It's #AskArchivists day (involving our very own @bodleianlibs) - any tips from those in the field for aspiring archivists?
A: Get experience! Volunteering is great and helps you know if it's a career for you
A: From a modern papers archivist: Do research on job/institution. Be enthusiastic & positive!
A: From our CPA archivist: Read NRA email list for topical issues & to show awareness

Q: Are you doing any digitalisation of old books/diaries? If so, how extensive and how will it be accessible?
A: We do lots - see our digital collections pages and also most recent project Shelley-Godwin Archive

Q: What do you find is your biggest challenge as a modern-day archivist?
A: We have many, but one is what to do with digital formats (& analog!) Projects like @beamtweet are exploring!

Q: Entice me... I'm looking into privies of London, c10th-c15th (not literally looking into, of course). What might you have?
A: That's tough! Working on it - will update. For now, The Royal Palaces of Tudor England has info on high status royal privies
Alas no privy but prison, still enticing we hope: an image of The Clink, 1580, by Stephan Batman

Q: Is the Gehenna Press archive catalogued? We have some lovely Leonard Baskin/Ted Hughes items here at Exeter
A: We're working on Gehenna material, hoping to finish later this year. We do have a few images of the archive's arrival
(Question from our archive at Exeter! @UoEHeritageColl)

Q: Digital storage media suggestions for easier future migration?
A: Tough question. If you're sensible w storage and refresh often, files generally OK but ... Format is a bigger issue. Have a look at 'Sustainability of Digital Formats' from @librarycongress for some info.

Q: What are the Bod's plans for digitizing its catalogues of Western manuscripts?
A: We add new collection catalogues regularly (see Special Collections pages); others are goals but depend on time/funding

Q: Given space and logistics, I suppose you can't take on every archive you get offered. How do you decide which to preserve?
A: We have priorities/collection policy, but hard to say no to something good - often depends on how it fits with what we already have

Q: What is the best part of being an archivist?
A: Uncovering little bits of history no one knew (or remembered) existed!

The Smithsonian

The tweets started coming in fast and furious early that morning. Many wanted to know more about the archival profession and the education and training needed to be an archivist.
We have lots of resources about how to get a job; types of archive and museum jobs history buffs would enjoy; and information about what archivists and photo archivists do.
Q: do you have any advice for recent grads who want to pursue archiving?
A: http://ow.ly/5dSRf & http://ow.ly/5dSRg should get you started. Follow up ?s welcome anytime. Thanks! (RCW)

Q: Do uHav #DigitalArchivists &do they wk closely w/ IT or archives workers? Any idea of bg & training?
A: LSF: I am one, & we wrk closely w/SI IT. More than basics of computers, systems, sftwre. Coding sklls a+.

Q:Any advice or tips on curating exhibits w/ archive materials-how to display, preserve, document?
A: Respect archival context. Across the pond has an exhaustive document for display: http://ow.ly/5e9sw (RCW)

Q: What do you suggest for collections that require a confidentiality/privacy arrangement with the researcher?
A: LSF: Here's our policy for restricted collections: http://ow.ly/5eead
Q: is photocopying worse for preservation of paper docs than photographing them using a flash?
A:Yes. Digital photo or scan for unlimited re-purposing and only 1 traumatic experience for the paper. (RCW)

1 comment:

  1. Hi Carrie, and thanks for the shout-out to the Smithsonian! We really enjoyed tweeting that day, and seeing questions and answers from other archives and institutions roll in over the day.

    Also, thanks for sharing the Bod's tweets above--I went to school at Oxford, but hadn't seen their summary, so it's nice to have a chance to read through them above!

    Catherine Shteynberg
    Smithsonian Institution Archives