Tuesday 14 June 2011

New archive blog discovery

I recently discovered a new blog, well new to me that is, the blog has been going since May 2010.  I've been enjoying having a sift through their old posts and would thoroughly recommend it as a 'follow'! It's called Reclamation and Representation - the boundaries of the literary archiveMuch like this blog was started as part of a project Reclamation and Representation was started to continue discussion and links that were part of the conference of the same name at the University of Exeter.

They help a really interesting sounding day at the University Archive yesterday 'In the Archive with Daphne Du Maurier' - an opportunity to see manuscripts of her most famous works including Rebecca and Jamaica Inn, led by Acting Head of Special Collections and Reclamation panelist Christine Faunch.

They've just posted a nice summary of some of the questions asked on #AskArchivists day.  I wish I could have taken part but we were moving office that day so I didn't think I could really give it the time it deserved.  I've really enjoyed catching up on the questions asked though.  One that is mentioned in Reclamation and Representation's summary is below:

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 (Answer from the Bodlein)

It reminded me of problems I've had as a user of catalogues, only a few years ago it took me ages to work out the right reference numbers for items I wanted to reserve at the National Library of Scotland.  Now I'm sure a large part of my problem was purely impatience, yes, even me an archivist used to using archive catalogues, still expects everything set out for me, google style.  So in turn this reminded me now that we have to do everything we can to make our catalogues as easy to use as possible as - worst case scenario - people will just stop using if they can't find what they're looking for.  Although I think what a lot of people do, and what I did when faced with the same problems, was e-mail the archivist or special collections librarian and ask their help.  I think that #AskArchivists day is a fantastic way of showing that we're not intimidating, that we're 'here to help'!

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