Thursday, 7 March 2013

Where are we going?

I'm aware that I haven't written a post in a while and, frankly, it's because I am just plodding along at work and nothing of massive import has gripped me.  And I'm very busy living the London life i.e. spending two thirds of my free time having fun and the remaining third embracing the public transport system (for reference, carrying 15 balloons on the tube at 7.30am raises few smiles).

This week, though, I attended an APAC (Association for Performing Arts Collections) annual study day.  We were looking at early printed theatrical ephemera, which is not a genre of which the National has much, but it was interesting all the same.  Martin Andrews of Reading University spent the morning divulging the history of printing to us and the tables groaning with copper plates, inscribed stones, tools and wooden engravings were a fantastic way to get a hands on grasp of the techniques, which I learned about during my masters.  He took us through engraving, intaglio, relief, planographic and more in the hope that knowledge of the printing techniques would help us (as theatre archivists and museum curators) identify and date early printed materials.

Totally unrelated but everyone should go to the
London Transport Museum to see the
Underground poster exhibition!
The afternoon was taken up with members of the group presenting on their own theatrical ephemera, what they have and how they use it.  Julie Anne Lambert of the John Johnson Collection at the Bodleian brought up a very interesting point.  Aside from the ephemera, she was discussing the new catalogue which uses OCR to search the documents as well as the metadata provided by the cataloguers.  She states that this has eliminated the humdrum of research and freed up time for the focus on interpretation of data.  I had never considered that the methods of cataloguing and presenting the information on the internet could quite so dramatically affect the research process.  Pretty much gone are the days of researchers being the first to look at certain collections or having to go through hand written catalogue cards.  Obviously not everything is catalogued and there are many collections where more research hours are required but as we progress, so does technology and there is no reason why research methods must stand still.

Finding out that the destination sign on buses is actually a
large roller blind really made my day

We are at a very interesting point in technological advancements in archival presentation and cataloguing and information management is ever evolving, which got me thinking about my career...

This 'ever evolving' concept has brought to my attention the cross-disciplinary nature of the information profession.  I do enjoy archiving and my time at Syracuse University Archives was wonderful but I am beginning to wonder where else I could go.  At the risk of sounding like a broken record, my degree was all about the 'skills involved' and so was my Masters in Library and Information Science from Syracuse University.  I had tea with a lady yesterday who really opened my mind to the idea of the bigger picture.  Careers are not about one fixed, traditional path but they are about using each and every experience, good and bad, to mould your own path to the job that will ultimately satisfy you.  The skills involved in an archive job are valuable to almost every other profession and there is nothing to stop me using them in a profession, which is more stable than archiving.  I am keen to get a permanent job next since I am pretty tired of the transience of my life recently but this is not really feasible as an archivist.  SO, what can I do with a Classics degree and an MLIS - frankly, I think that the world is my oyster and this is a liberating concept.  I'm by no means pigeon holed and, as long as I give my all to everything I do, there is no reason why I can't furrow my very own unique career path.  Watch this space.

Furrows by libraryman, on Flickr
Furrows...which one is mine?

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 2.0 Generic License  by  libraryman 

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