University of Surrey student Abigail Jones started with us in September for her Professional Training Year. In this blog post she introduces herself and the work she will be doing.
Like almost every student in the country, I have paid many visits to the Internet in search of a future, wondering what kind of careers fit with an English Literature degree. I had transferred to a four-year course to include a placement year in my time at Surrey, but at the time I had no idea what I wanted to do with it. In the summer of 2021, buried in a list from my latest speculative search, I saw a job description for something called an ‘archivist’. I had never heard of it before – it sounded interesting! After spending the summer months volunteering at Maidenhead Library and the Maidenhead Heritage Centre to get some experience in related fields, I began searching and sending out speculative applications to anywhere I could find to see if local archives were interested in accepting a placement year employee. I did not, however, know about the Archives and Special Collections on the ground level of the Library until it was brought to my attention by my Victorian Literature professor. With apologies to her for using my phone in class, an email enquiring about spending my placement year there was sent out before the lecture was even over.
A hop, skip, and almost a year later, I started my position as an Archives Intern. Being introduced to collections care, environmental monitoring, pest management, and how to handle different material appropriately has been a whirlwind, but it has been the groundwork with which I will continue to build my knowledge in this sector. Alongside the daily tasks of temperature readings and handling retrievals, I have engaged with listing accessions from GSA, auditing letters from Florence Shepard to her husband, the illustrator E.H. Shepard, and sorting and arranging the publicity material of different dance groups.
My role also focuses on increasing the accessibility of our collections; this includes public outreach in the form of social media and taking part in events, enhancing the discoverability of material to the public by listing and cataloguing items, and scanning material, as well as helping in the Research Room when needed.
I am excited to continue the rest of my placement year here and develop my skills in archives with the wonderful team in the Archives and Special Collections department!