Thanks to the bursary, in September 2011 I began the module Sound and Vision: Collecting, Preserving and Managing Film Sound and Oral History through distance learning via the University of Dundee. The course offered a chance to build on my MSc in Information Management and Preservation from the University of Glasgow. Discovering more about specialised archives has always appealed to me: I’d been transcribing oral history records as an archive volunteer, I have a research background in film studies and have worked as a film programmer. I’m interested in mixed archival collections and I wanted to equip myself with the knowledge and confidence to tackle audio-visual materials.
The course was conducted entirely through Dundee’s virtual learning environment. We studied four units, but I found ‘Preservation of Audio-Visual Material’ really challenging (as someone with one science GCSE to her name, getting my head around the characteristics of media carriers was difficult, but essential in the ability to identify and preserve these archives).
I am currently the temporary archivist at the Centre for the Study of World Christianity, University of Edinburgh, where I work with a mixed collection of paper and audio-visual material. Sorting through boxes of cine-film, cassettes and reel-to-reel tape, I am extremely grateful for my notes from Sound and Vision! Archivists are increasingly faced with such a variety of material that a single qualification cannot be expected to cover every scenario and medium—it is important that we continue to equip ourselves with the skills and confidence to preserve future accessions, whatever shape they make take.