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Samar Ziadat - Beyond the Lecture Theatre Conference

Samar Ziadat, Collection Development & Outreach at Lothian Health Services Archive

At the end of January, four out of seven ‘Opening up Scotland’s Archives’ trainees attended the University Museums in Scotland (UMIS) and Scottish Universities Special Collections and Archives Group (SUSCAG) conference, ‘Beyond the Lecture Theatre’, at the University of Aberdeen. The conference brought museum staff, archivists, librarians, researchers and students together, in order to share the outreach initiatives that we had developed, tried and tested, with the aim of creating ideal models for governance, management, partnership and delivery.

As demonstrated by the six sessions that we attended over the two days, museums, archives, and special collections have increasingly developed outreach programmes aimed at university students, rather than school-aged groups, because as university services, it is especially important for us to provide our students with access to our collections.

Throughout the conference, we had sessions modelled after themes such as ‘Using Collections in Teaching’, ‘New Ways of Engaging’, ‘Widening Access Through Engaging with Students’, ‘Nights at the Museum and Museum Lates’, and ‘Co-production and Skills Development’. Glasgow City Council and Glasgow School of Art Trainee, Jennifer, expressed that she found it “really interesting to see lots of different practical examples of outreach, and also to hear organisations say what went wrong as well as what went right.” Like Jennifer, I’m also hoping to “use aspects from the different organisations in my outreach and community engagement activities too.” Catherine, a trainee at the University of St. Andrews, thought that “there were so many fantastic presentations”, especially enjoying “the presentation by Anne McNally, the Senior Archivist at Westminster University… and her description of using the apprenticeship learning model with students to help them develop their research skills.”

A particular highlight for me was the PechaKucha session at the end of the first day. For anyone that doesn’t know (I didn’t until the conference!), PechaKucha 20x20 is a rapid-fire presentation format in which you present 20 slides in 20 seconds. The first ever PechaKutcha event took place in Tokyo in 2003, and has since turned into a viral phenomenon. The three PechaKuchas that we heard that afternoon were performed by three PHD candidates from The Hunterian Associates Programme, Brianna Kirkland Robertson, Angela Massafra and Ianto Jocks. The format kept the presentations concise, to the point and visually engaging, and the three associates themselves were knowledgeable, charismatic and witty.

A fantastic conference all round – I can’t wait to apply all I’ve learnt to the projects I’m currently working on at Lothian Health Services Archive.