I’m starting this traineeship directly after finishing my Masters in Early Modern History at Durham University, where I also completed my undergraduate degree in History. What I enjoyed most about my degrees was the opportunity to explore original primary source material from the university archives, so the idea of a future job working with archives on a daily basis really appealed to me.
When I started researching possible careers I quickly realised that it would be difficult to do the kind of job I wanted without first undertaking a Masters in Archives and Record Management. Having just finished one postgraduate course, moving straight onto another didn’t seem a feasible possibility, so when I found out about the ‘Opening up Scotland’s Archives’ programme, it seemed like the perfect opportunity for me to gain valuable experiences in an archive environment that might not have been available to me elsewhere.
The Traditional Skills traineeship will involve me developing skills such as undertaking a cataloguing project and attending classes on palaeography – a skill which I’m really keen to develop after touching on it during my degree. It’s going to be an exciting and hugely worthwhile year – the opportunity to complete one of the modules on the University of Dundee’s postgraduate archives course, in addition to gaining a year’s worth of experience and skills from working in an archives, will provide a foundation for me to hopefully go on to the full archives degree, with a view to becoming a qualified archivist.
About University of St Andrews Special Collections
The Special Collections of the University Library are key cultural assets of the University and nation and are thus preserved in perpetuity to support use by the University and wider communities.
The Special Collections Division holds rare book, archival and photographic collections which by virtue of the uniqueness or rarity of the items contained within them, their physical form, content, depth of subject coverage or other special significance, are distinguished from the general stock of the Library. They receive special treatment in terms of housing, management, cataloguing, consultation, preservation and conservation. The University Library has been collecting books and archives for its entire six centuries, and the photographic collections have been developed since the birth of photography in the 19th century. The main role of Special Collections staff is to enable physical and intellectual access to these collections while at the same time ensuring their long-term preservation.
A new reading room for access to our materials was a key element of the Martyrs Kirk Research Library development in 2012/13. We are also actively planning new, purpose-built accommodation, and hope soon to be in a position to allow the wonderful collections in our care to fulfil their potential for the University and world-wide research communities.
Our archival collections contain unique materials in many different formats, covering a wide range of subjects and a time span of two millennia. Our trainee has the opportunity to work in a busy Special Collections service and to focus on traditional skills such as palaeography and cataloguing.