– notes, frequently asked questions and useful links from the archivist and curator of manuscripts at Balliol College, University of Oxford. Opinions expressed are the author's own.

Day journal Tuesday 2 April 2013

I checked emails before leaving home – I have two readers coming and I like to know before I have to plunge into the day what kind of email mountain is waiting, especially after a holiday weekend. But enquirers seem to have been out enjoying themselves ,and there are few queries. So far…

9.25 I arrive, unlock gates, switch on lights, main computer and nave desk VPN as I’m invigilating today. Visual checks: 3 repositories – no water on floors, dataloggers are displaying reasonable conditions, locks are working. Plant room and fire detection panels: all green lights.

9.35 reader 1 arrives – produce box he was working on last time

9.50 It’s Tuesday, but this is the first day of my working week so I‘ll follow at least part of Monday’s schedule. First though, I want to finish processing the box of accessions I was halfway through on Friday afternoon. I’ll see how much I can do by 10.30.

10.10 reader 2 arrives. Produce volume he was reading last time.

10.30 That didn’t go according to plan – I answered internal emails instead, as several needed prompt responses. Typical. They’re done now, so I’ll take the next half hour  to finish this box. First I’ll get another jumper though…

11.00 ugh – it’s getting quite dense. Lots of disparate bits of filing to sort.

11.30 more done and JISC NRA list mail backlog cleared!

11.45 right, putting off dealing with horrible dregs of filing by discovering just how many email enquiries there were in March, for the monthly dose of statistics.

12.00 interrupted by web-ready version of a collection list arriving, needs posting online by lunchtime!

1pm List posted on website with contents, links etc, announced on facebook and twitter. Time to chuck out readers and lock up for lunch.

Over lunch in college (10 min walk away) update Fellows on what’s happening at St Cross and catch up with anything going in college, as I’m not on site most of the time. It’s quiet just now as we’re between teaching  terms.

1.50 I return to St Cross.

2pm Both readers return.

2.15 Conservator arrives for final fitting of smart new archival board display case linings and covers, hurra. Just one needs a last trimming adjustment (not one case is a true rectangle…) and the covers need little lugs attached for ease of lifting now that trimming is complete. Nearly there!

2.45 check OUCS offerings re poster design & express interest in several modules for later – copyright, digital media, data storage…

3pm back to original task – whoops, must not forget to publicise Unlocking Archives talk, preferably today but I don’t have a poster design. At least get the text out. Put on facebook and twitter – already on blog. Where does Bod advertise all its talks? Hard to schedule things to avoid clashes right now as little is published before the start of term. Would be good to be able to advertise the whole term’s worth of talks together, April, May 7 June, but one at a time will do, just glad they’re happening.

3.05 Get next box out for reader 2. Both readers are actually reading and not just skimming through or photographing everything in sight. Photography is  a great thing and I’ve had lovely cooperation from several scholars who’ve provided copies of all their images and permission to pass them on to future enquirers – after the photographer has published the article in hand! – but those who actually read things do make for much shorter lists of productions, which means I get quite  a bit more done on those days. Seriously, back to this wretched box of filing.

3.30 more email enquiries correspondence. Hour and  a half to go. I can do this – starting the (silent) online timer for a FlyLady style 15 min hustle, or to approximate rowing parlance, a push for 10…

3.40 Right, have set up tweetdeck so I can schedule tweets more regularly and not have to log in once a week to bombard the twittersphere with mad numbers of updates all at once. Yay. Really useful, and obviously not putting off the filing at all… Thank goodness for brightly coloured mini-sticky notes. I know they’re not archival, they are just for directing me through a big box of stuff that needs putting away. Fun stationery is the filer’s friend…

3.55 Box is empty! Now to actually sort and put the things away…

5.00 well, got them sorted but couldn’t put them away in the repository as I was invigilating, so started sorting another stack…


Compare the day’s progress with the theoretical schedule:

Hrs 1-3 research & answer enquiries – more or less!

Hr 4 accessioning – yes, part of sorting the filing.

Hr 5 urgent tasks for this week – giving an extra push to filing is a good urgent thing.

Hr 6-7 scans & photography – not possible as I was based in the nave today

List for an unallocated hour tomorrow:

  • Devise poster for Unlocking Archives or at least send text round – list places to advertise
  • Passwords maintenance (beginning of a new quarter)
  • Learn tweetdeck
  • Make lists and organise twitter feed according to categories
  • Make some themed FFs for scheduling –  medieval music, art, history, image resources
  • Write up Cambridge visit 1 March & post on blog
  • Work on March monthly report for blog


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