Read about our new trainee and her first few weeks at Kew.
Hello, my name is Sarah and I am the new Archives Graduate Trainee at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew for 2010/11. I am here to introduce myself and to tell you a little about what life is like as a trainee archivist here at Kew.
Before coming here, I studied for a History MA at Oxford Brookes University and my previous archive experience was gained through work experience and volunteering placements. I volunteered weekly with the Middle East Centre Archive, Oxford, and completed various short term work experience placements around Oxford and London in my spare time. I hope to begin studying for the Archives and Records Management postgraduate qualification via distance learning during my year here.
Sarah at work
I became aware of the role through the Archives and Records Association (ARA) list of graduate traineeships and the position at Kew appealed to me in particular because it offers a wide variety of experience and is structured well to compliment pre-entry experience for the archives qualification. As a trainee my main duties include dealing with enquiries and users of the Reading Room, responding to enquiries, identifying and retrieving items for researchers, and managing reprographic orders. I will also be spending time with the Records Administrator in the Registry each week, where I get to experience the work involved in modern records management, opening and closing current records and handling internal enquiries from across the departments at Kew. Throughout the year I will also be undertaking individual projects in cataloguing, preservation and there is also the chance to work on a joint project with the Library Trainee, Eleanor.
Working with the collections
The collections housed by the archives here are really fascinating and of great historical value, so it is a real honour to be able to be part of it and to help people access the material. The archives hold historical records relating to the development and botanical collections of the Gardens and its activities worldwide. I have already made a few exciting discoveries including letters from Darwin himself, and there are some amazing volumes relating to early plant collectors and explorers of the new world, some of which contain extraordinary illustration and sketches.
Letter from Charles Darwin to Joseph Hooker
Since starting as the trainee one month ago, I have also been fortunate through my job to have taken part in a visit with the Museums Libraries and Archives Group (MLAG) and I also attended the Archives Awareness Campaign Conference, which was a great place to meet other archivists who shared their experiences and advice. I am really interested in the different outreach programmes used and the ways archives can get people interested, and I hope to learn more about this throughout my traineeship.
I am really looking forward to discovering more about archives and records management work and completing my projects. The induction programme has been great and as well as meeting lots of lovely people I have learned a lot about the great work that has gone on throughout the Gardens' history.
- Sarah -
Kew's Library, Art and Archives contains many millions of items within its collections. Find out about the diverse teams who look after these collections and make them accessible.
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