Popping up in Worcester

This week is the culmination of our project as the My Worcester Pop-up Museum goes live in Reindeer Court. We are opening to the public from Thursday 20th, Friday 21st and Saturday 22nd August 11am to 3pm, with an exhibition and FREE activities for all ages.

My Worcester Pop-up Museum, Reindeer Court

My Worcester Pop-up Museum, Reindeer Court

For several months now all the trainees have been working hard on the pop-up museum as part of the Worcester Festival. It’s been exciting, terrifying, enjoyable, nerve-racking and fascinating all at once. Such a project had not been tried by the previous tranches of trainees so we are breaking new ground while we learn new skills.

The Worcestershire Archive and Archaeology Service panel at the My Worcester Pop-up Museum

The Worcestershire Archive and Archaeology Service panel at the My Worcester Pop-up Museum

The exhibition highlights favourite treasures from each placement chosen by our volunteers and visitors. At Worcestershire Archive and Archaeology Service and the University of Worcester Special Research Collections we don’t normally have artefacts on display so we took the opportunity to create an exhibition on level 2 of the Hive.

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Planning exhibitions at Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery

I visited a couple of other institutions to work out how to create this exhibition. I was welcomed by Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery where Katie Hall had kindly organised for staff to talk to me about planning, setting up, and marketing a large exhibition. I chatted to the conservator about looking after the artefacts on display and sat in on a planning meeting. Then I visited Droitwich Spa Heritage Centre where Becky Pye and her band of volunteers let me sit in on a day’s worth of museum management while I marvelled at the temporary exhibition there.

Admiring the exhibition at Droitwich Spa Heritage Centre

Admiring the exhibition at Droitwich Spa Heritage Centre

Fired up with inspiration from both placements I created the exhibition now on level 2 of the Hive to showcase the Hanbury Hall Map Book (1732) chosen at Worcestershire Archive and Archaeology Service and a copy of Where the Wild Things Are from the University of Worcester Special Research Collections. This mini exhibition can be viewed until the end of August.

Exhibition at Worcestershire Archive and Archaeology Service

Exhibition at Worcestershire Archive and Archaeology Service

It has been brilliant to work together as a team with all the other trainees on this project.  Now all the hard work is done, and we can enjoy welcoming customers to our pop-up museum in Reindeer Court: Thursday 20th to Saturday 22nd August, 11am to 3pm. Why not pop in and check it out for yourself?

Sarah Ganderton

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GLAM

Last week I attended my first gathering for members of the Group for Literary Archives and Manuscripts (GLAM). The University of Worcester Research Collections has recently become a member of this group and I was glad to attend as a representative of my workplace. The meeting was held at the British Library in the Conservation Studios and was made up of 35 archivists, librarians, curators, writers and researchers. GLAM was established in 2005 and was initiated by The John Rylands University Library, at The University of Manchester. GLAM is an independent organisation which supports the collecting, preservation, use and promotion of literary archives and manuscripts in Britain and Ireland.

British Library

British Library

The focus of the day was on negotiations within acquisitions of archives and the issues that may arise as a result of these discussions. I gained a lot from this meeting as I was able to talk with and listen to institutes who purchase collections rather than relying solely on donations from generous depositors. Although this was not directly relevant to my current workplace it was useful to understand the methods which other repositories undertook in order to secure their collections. The advice that was provided widened my knowledge of the archive sector and helped to situate our current position at the Research Collections.

The next topic of discussion was on the benefits and issues of using living or recently deceased creators. Having a creator and/or depositor who is still alive can greatly enhance the understanding and context of the material being housed. They can be interviewed and their statements can be recorded within the archive and they may even be available for future questioning if any uncertainty arises. On top of this, a living depositor can also answer questions relating to access and allow certain permissions of access to their own work. However, an issue that may arise is one of sensitivity. Their collection is their work and so it is difficult to place a value (whether research potential or financial) on their material without causing any undue offence. It is important to remain empathetic when dealing with depositors as many will see the removal of their work as a cathartic process; this is particularly true in cases where the creator has recently passed away.

The next meeting of GLAM is in October and will be a 10 year celebration of the group. I am hoping to attend as it was great to discuss how different bodies manage their collections and it was nice to see the level of support amongst members.

Danielle Joyce

Efficient Minute Taking

The University of Worcester provides great staff development opportunities for its employees; including mindfulness, time management and software skills, to name just a few. I thought I would make use of this opportunity during my time at the Research Collections and was recommended to attend a course on Minute Taking and Servicing Meetings. Initially I was apprehensive as I thought that spending a day learning how to take effective notes was a little excessive. However, I was wrong and I actually learned quite a lot from this session which will benefit both my traineeship and hopefully my future career.OTTtitle

The programme was provided by the enthusiastic Jill Bowman from On Target Training who took us through the full protocol of how to service a meeting alongside the Chairperson. In previous experience, I have frantically written notes verbatim until my hand hurt and my energy had gone. This was because I was unaware of the level of detail required and wanted to make sure I did not miss anything important. This is a very ineffective and inefficient method of writing minutes as you recite information which does not need to be recorded and lose focus of the main points of discussion. Jill suggested that minutes needed to contain the following components:

  • Background – why was this item brought to the agenda?
  • Discussion – what are the views surrounding it?
  • Decision – what conclusions have been made?
  • Action – what has to be done? By who? And when?

The decision and action points could be interchangeable but one of them is required for each agenda item. This is all you need to ensure that your minutes are informative and relevant whist capturing areas for concern and objectives for the future. Focus on what the key issues are and make sure these are fully represented in your minutes. The best minutes come from a good rapport with the Chair as they can summarise and go over points to ensure that everyone understands and that you have recorded the discussion correctly.

The day increased my confidence in minute taking and pushed me to try new techniques to enhance my efficiency both in and after meetings. I am very grateful for the opportunity and would recommend the course to anyone who, like me, felt they did not need specific training on the subject.

I will leave you with some top tips from Jill:

  • If you are new to minute taking, do your research on the attendees and try to understand the topic of the meeting.
  • Sit by the Chair – you can quickly ask questions and clarify any notes with little disturbance to the meeting.
  • Once the meeting is finished find a quiet place to immediately read over your notes – clarify your words and make sense of your text whilst it is still fresh.
  • Try to compile a rough draft of your minutes (for your eyes only) within 24 hours of the meeting to ensure that you retain as much information as possible.
  • Make sure what you present is a true representation of events at the meeting as they will need to be agreed by the attendees / Chair.

Thank you,

Danielle Joyce

#DCDC14

Yesterday, Tom and Sarah and I travelled to Birmingham for the Discovering Collections, Discovering Communities conference. This was the first conference that I have attended so I was unsure as to what to expect. However, I came out of it with some brilliant new ideas on how to promote my collections and more importantly how to forge partnerships and collaborate with other institutions and sites of cultural heritage. The Library of Birmingham was a fantastic setting for such an event as it promotes collaboration in itself, having both archives and a library accessible for all. Being open for only 14 months and already attracting just under 3 million visitors signifies what a great role the library has in the local community.

Birmingham Library

Inside Birmingham Library

The main themes that I picked up on throughout the day were collaboration, diversity and inclusion. This was to show how archives, museums and academia can work together to formulate stories and common experiences to heighten the impact and interest in their collections. This selection of varied institutions from across the heritage and cultural sectors created a discussion on future improvement and possibilities for further collaboration. It was inspiring to see this already in action through some of the speakers such as Kirsty Pattrick, from the Mass Observation Archive, who has been working alongside Lewes Prison Library to provide a voice for inmates who would otherwise be silenced in the pages of history. This project acts as a springboard for further engagement with offenders and provided them with a cathartic release within their rigid daily schedules. Another example of inclusive projects was provided by Katie Giles, from Kingston University Special Collections, who showcased the various ways in which she worked with both school children and adults with special educational needs. Her emphasis was on creative outputs and how to tailor to and inspire different audiences. One bit of advice I took from her presentation was to ‘feel the fear and do it anyway’.

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The programme cover for the conference

I was lucky enough to meet the author of the Special Collections Handbook, Alison Cullingford, whose book has been of great use to me during this placement. As I am responsible for the social media output here at the Research collections, her talk on the use of blogs and twitter was really helpful. She explained how to take an object and create a story around it as this is a more engaging approach that people will be more likely to take an interest in. Audiences like a good story and if you find an object within your collection that people would not expect you to hold then show it off, do not be afraid to stick simply to what people are expecting to see. I am hoping to visit Bradford University Special Collections soon to learn as much as I can from Alison and bring it back to Worcester.

The main thing I took from this conference was the confidence and inspiration to see how the seven placements across Worcester can take this notion of collaboration to increase engagement in our collections. I’m hoping to share what I have learnt with the others who did not attend to see what steps we can take towards working together.

Danielle Joyce, Tom Hopkins, Sarah Ganderton

Us outside the Library

For more information on the events search for #DCDC14 on twitter or follow @UWRColl

 

Danielle Joyce

Postcards, Cats & Cardboard Boxes

Hey, I am Danielle and I have been working at the Research Collections at the University of Worcester.

For the last three weeks it has been my task to update our display cabinets. I had full control over the theme and content, which initially was daunting but turned out to be a great opportunity as I was able to familiarise myself with the collection whilst adding my own personal touch to my placement.

John Marks Postcard Display

John Marks Postcard Display

For the big board, I chose to focus on our John Marks Postcard Collection as the use of illustration and colour help to make an eye-catching and interesting exhibit. The postcards are centralised around a literary theme and can be divided up into a section on prose and a section on poetry. As well as displaying the collection, I have also taken charge of cataloguing and organising them, with over 4000 to work with; this definitely is keeping me busy.

Nicola Bayley - The Patchwork Cat

Nicola Bayley – The Patchwork Cat

Continuing on the theme of illustration I designed another display on the work of Children’s illustrators from the 19th and 20th centuries. As well as publicising what the Research Collections holds, I also wanted to evoke childhood memories from those who stopped to view the display. For anyone interested in children’s illustration, or anyone who happens to love cats, I’d highly recommend coming along to the Woodbury Building on St. Johns Campus to have a look for yourself.

Over the next week I will be experiencing other collections at the Worcester Cathedral Library and The Hurd Library. I wanted to gain an insight into how other libraries and archives store and manage their collections so that I can bring different and new approaches back to my placement. Visiting and working in such established settings will prove to be an invaluable opportunity in gaining a greater understanding of the Heritage Sector.

My next mission is to unpack and organise our brand new collection of Historical Text books! We have a room full of unopened boxes which are waiting to be shelved and then used by researchers. As a History graduate, the thought of getting my hands on these old text books is quite exciting and I can’t wait to keep you posted on what I find!

So the title of this blog pretty much sums up my experience so far!

History Text Books

Unopened Boxes of History Text Books

 

If you’re interested in the Research Collections please visit our websites at:

http://worcuniresearchcolls.wordpress.com/

http://libguides.worc.ac.uk/researchcollections

Or follow us on Twitter: @UWRColl

 

Danielle Joyce