Today I started my first full week placement at the RNCM library. It started early as I had to pick up youngest from swimming at 7.30am and then went straight on to drop all three children with my mum who is looking after them for three days this week. A truly heroic feat!
Today I have been shadowing some of the library assistants and doing some processing of acquisitions which involves allocating barcodes, adding security tags and covering books or putting into envelopes if it is music with multiple parts. The fun bit is covering books with vistafoil – essentially sticky backed plastic.
This afternoon I spent some time with Mary Anne, the archivist, finding out about her job. Mary Anne works alone and although she trained as an archivist, her job also has records management appended to it, which is a full-time job in itself. The records of the RNCM have not really been managed properly until now and there are two storage rooms full of documents which are only beginning to be recorded and catalogued so they can be accessed, stored and ultimately disposed of properly. Records Management also involves Freedom of Information requests and Mary Anne showed me some of the wide range of requests they get, which are often just sent out to all Higher Education establishments, but which all have to be supplied within a really tight deadline.
The archives themselves comprise three main areas: the archives of the Northern School of Music, the archives of the Royal Manchester College of Music, and the archives of the current college, the Royal Northern College of Music which formed in 1973 when the other two schools merged. There are lots of unique and interesting collections, including the collections of several composers. Mary Anne explained some of the issues of cataloguing archives, how do you maintain the integrity of a ‘collection’ but still make it accessible to searchers in the google age where keyword searches do not always show context?
One of the biggest challenges Mary Anne faces is making the archives available and promoting them to students and other researchers. She does this through workshops, talks, displays and through the website. One of the more innovative promotions is a resource for KS3 and 4 developed with Bolton and Trafford archives ‘Investigating the life of Thomas Baron Pitfield’ a local musician, artist and craftsman which links the Music, English, Drama, Art and Design, Citizenship and History curriculums http://www.rncm.ac.uk/component/content/article/151/302.html
I finished off the day by processing a few more books. Already looking forward to tomorrow.