Summer volunteering in Special Collections and Archives

This guest post comes from Alex Barlow, School of English, Communication and Philosophy, who spent three months volunteering with us this summer, in order to gain the experience necessary to be accepted on a postgraduate vocational qualification in information studies:

‘As I approached the end of my second year of the English Literature BA at Cardiff University, I started to think more and more about career options. I am mostly leaning towards ‘information services’ i.e. libraries and archives and thought that my own library would be a good place to start. I speculatively emailed Special Collections and Archives to explore voluntary work experience and was very excited when Alison agreed to meet me and discuss my plans. It was then agreed that I would undertake 12 weeks of work experience within Special Collections and Archives in order to gain a significant amount of experience, and to be able to really get stuck in to different tasks.

AB1Throughout the 12 weeks I have catalogued Julian Hodge’s business archive, and completely reorganised and catalogued the archives of Keith Waterhouse, Joan Reeder and Bernard Knight. Alison provided guidance but otherwise allowed me to manage the work independently, which will act as beneficial experience for my Project Management module starting in September. I also researched and found materials for use in Special Collections seminar workshops for The Illustrated Book module, also starting this September. Through these activities, I now understand how cataloguing works, and I know how to properly use the archives, which will be hugely beneficial to my studies in my final year.

AB2Not only have I gained some experience to add to my CV but I’ve also had a very enjoyable few months working within Special Collections and Archives. Alison and Peter have been very helpful throughout my time here and have been accommodating and understanding in relation to what I wanted to get out of this experience and to the kinds of work I enjoyed doing. If, like me, you are interested in an information services career and would like to gain some experience I would heartily recommend working within Special Collections and Archives.’

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