June 2, 2017, by Kathryn Steenson

A Picture-Perfect Placement

Looking to get the most out of your university experience whilst learning invaluable employability skills and aiding the increasing accessibility of an expanding archive that has been around for nearly 90 years? I’m Amy Cooper, a third year English student that recently completed a placement at Manuscripts and Special Collections as a Digitisation Assistant. Here is a blog about my experience.

Working as a Digitisation Assistant

Towards the end of the Autumn semester I received an email advertising placements for English students. I was desperate to make the most of my university experience and take advantage of every opportunity and I saw a placement that caught my eye. The role was for a Digitisation Assistant at Manuscripts and Special Collections located on Kings Meadow Campus. This immediately jumped out to me because it combined my love of photography with my increasing interest in heritage.

Amy scanning photographs in the Digitisation Studio

The Role

The placement involved roughly 90 hours of volunteering, assisting members of the Manuscripts and Special Collections team in improving the discoverability and access of a large collection of University photographs. On day one I was presented with a box of around 250 photographs that I had to sort through and categorise. I got to look through and analyse so many different photographs of the University, dating from as early as 1924 with the construction of the Trent Building on University Park Campus which was fascinating to see and so important to digitise.

My personal favourite part of the placement was when I got to work alongside the Digitisation Technical Officer, Mark, which involved me scanning the images and creating metadata for them, insuring their longevity and accessibility.

Photograph of the construction of the Trent Building in University College Nottingham, with ruler and colour bar used in digitisation (Ref: UMP/3/9/5/5)

What I’ve Learnt

Throughout this placement I have acquired a wide variety of skills that will be transferable when looking for employment. I am now able to say that I can use a wide range of computer software including Microsoft Excel and Adobe Photoshop. I have also had a taste of what it is like to work in a heritage department and this is now something I am strongly considering for my future.

My voluntary work has ensured that these important photographs of the University of Nottingham’s past will now be correctly stored and categorised guaranteeing that they will we available for generations to come. The experience has been invaluable and I strongly encourage those in the position to seize the opportunity to complete a placement with Manuscripts and Special Collections – I promise you won’t regret it!

Manuscripts and Special Collections is just one of the departments that hosts work placements for our current students as part of their degree course. Please contact the Careers and Employability Service for information about future placements. To find out more about the University Archives, including the photographs, please see our Collections in Context resource, or you can search the catalogue here.

Posted in Guest blogs