Friday, September 21, 2012

7 Quick Takes: 21 September 2012

I have been intending for a long time to say more about my job as an archivist, so here are seven archive related quick takes.

1. For the last two weeks since my predecessor in this post retired I have been settling into what will be my long term job - three days a week as a fully fledged (albeit technically not quite qualified!) archivist. The two days a week I had been doing were to give me a chance to get to grips with the job and to learn more about our holdings. Now I'm having to pick up a bigger workload and more responsibility.

2. My job has three main aspects - supervising and advising researchers in the search room (usually two or three mornings a week), dealing with remote enquiries (so far this is averaging about 30 minutes a day but can be more), and cataloging collections (the rest of the time, including times when I am in the search room but it is quiet).

3. Various other less predictable tasks crop up, ranging from giving talks (I think my boss has booked me in for three in next year's diary so far) to helping with palaeography and Latin translations.

4. About 60% of the enquiries we deal with and visits we receive are from genealogists.

5. After starting with cataloguing some small collections fir experience I am now working on Methodist Church records. I have several boxes from our backlog to catalogue and several more to reorganise. I am trying to set up a structure for them that will be a bit more logical than the one we have now (which is in fact, no structure at all!).

6. I spent much of this morning trying to put together a list of all the Methodist churches and chapels that have existed in the county over the last couple of centuries. So far I'm up to 130 and still going, though I think in some cases the same church may have been known by different names. Unravelling them all is going to be a challenge.

7. I have learned that nothing is ever simple, that any job I start will end up taking several times longer than I expect and that it will almost certainly lead to other, unexpected jobs. This is a function of having an awful lot of stuff that has been accumulated over 100 years.


Faith said...

That sounds fascinating to me! Thanks for he peek!

PixieMum said...

Sounds like some of the activities that happen in Richmond local studies where I'm a volunteer.

Latest items to be catalogue are prints held there, the task is made easier by a catalogue compiled by Bamber Gascoigne in 1977. It was financed in the same way as Richmond Bridge had been in 1777, some famous names bought copies.

The collections are being digitalised, unfortunately material doesn't have to be deposited there so the collections can be incomplete in some areas. There are variations between material held for Surrey and Middlesex, much of the latter went to London Metropolitan Archive.

May I copy your "This Week" format,it is better than Simple Women's daybook"?

Thanks, Madeleine.

The Bookworm said...

A catalogue by Bamber Gascoigne! Yes, having an existing catalogue would help. We have volunteers who are catalogue postcards which often have no description with them at all. Google Street View comes in very useful. And yes, by all means copy my "This Week" format.

The Bookworm said...

That would be "cataloguing postcards"!