Chris Cassidy was the most recent of a number of undergraduate interns to work in the Special Collections Centre. The summer placement scheme has seen students work on a number of projects relating to work with rare books, archives and manuscripts, exhibitions and digitisation of materials. Here Chris gives an account of his experiences.
Over the summer I was lucky enough to work as an intern in Special Collections. I was really pleased to be chosen and excited to get some firsthand experience and it did not disappoint. I was mainly focused on working on a project concerning the local collection in the Wolfson Reading Room. It was a bit of an eye opener to see the amount held just on the North-East and made me question how well I really knew the area, which I had thought I was quite familiar with. I’d recently done a course on Stewart Scotland, in which I focused quite heavily on Aberdeen in my essay. I enjoyed it so much it has become a focus for my dissertation; so working heavily with items relating to the North-East and Aberdeen in particular was a perfect match for me.
The project had me doing a few different things. I created a digital copy of the local collection classification and updated it, adding in new categories. I surveyed the collection for items in need of attention from conservation and also for item that would be better placed in archives, which allowed me hand to materials from the 1700’s. This was great for me as a history student as I rarely get to handle or have access to primary sources like that.
The other project I worked on was similar in this regard. I helped look for items to be transferred to Special Collections from one of the libraries out stores. This once again meant I got to handle not only older books, but books with beautiful colour plates and intricate binding. This is not an experience I think I could have gotten from volunteering, especially the conservation training and knowledge I received.
The internship experience was also great for me when looking to my future. I am looking at doing a post-grad related to archives and I think it was great to be able to contextualise it. I got to see how the different specialisations such as archives, rare books, digitisation etc. operate on their own, as well as a department.
Most importantly it was a superb and enjoyable experience. I learned so much, got some unique experience and got to work with a great bunch of people. I’d recommend it to anyone else in a heartbeat and I would do it again if I could.