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Work experience in the archives

Our recent work experience student, Robert, shares his reflections on two weeks working in the county archives based at Dorset History Centre.

Delving into the collections

I have spent the last fortnight working on a project to record the Poole Labour Party archives (reference: D-PLP). This project was supervised by an archivist, who gave me an induction as to what was required to properly record the archival material. I have done some general work experience before in archives, so it was a pleasure to be able to undertake a specific project. I organised the papers in relevant folders, and undertook minor preservation work on documents. This insight allowed me to appreciate the level of care required for documents and the changing approaches to document handling and preservation in recent history. Throughout this project, although I was working largely independently, support was consistently on hand from other members of staff who were exceptionally welcoming to me.

A broad picture

Whilst at the History Centre I spoke to many members of staff to understand what their jobs involve. This has furthered my understanding of the complete function of an archive - from caring for the collections to making them available to the public. Time was spent shadowing a member of staff on the enquiry desk and document production, which involved retrieving documents from the repository for people to look at in the searchroom. I looked at old and interesting documents, making the experience all the more worthwhile. As someone who aspires to enter the heritage sector, this piece of work experience will help me further this ambition by building up my relevant work experience and skill base.

Robert Parkinson, work experience placement

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