– 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 Thursday 4 April 2013

Checked emails before leaving home – 3 readers in today, all as per yesterday.

9.10 I arrive by the side gate and remember to open the front ones… Lights, computers, action. Yesterday’s boxes/volumes are ready for today’s readers just inside the repository, but I do not get them out until the readers arrive. Sometimes readers do not turn up, and sometimes after going over their notes the night before, they may change direction.

9.20 Answer new enquiries/requests for appointments. Today’s schedule is: Plan exhibitions/outreach (1h), work on the enquiries processing backlog (2hrs), and an unallocated hour at the end of the morning. Cataloguing all afternoon. I will start with some cataloguing (once today’s enquiries are answered) because I want to get this box of MS citations off my desk and out of the way.

9.40 Readers 1 & 2 arrive.

10.30 BRRR horrible freezing draft from somewhere. Close door curtain and put on 2nd jumper. Much second-guessing of Google Scholar going on. Citations seem to be worse quality for MSS later in the sequence. That cannot actually be true but it is certainly taking more checking than yesterday’s lot did…

10.45 Reader 3 arrives. I notice the door is having some of its Old Trouble again, after having been ‘fixed for good’ for the fortieth time.

11.15 Meter reader arrives.

11.30 Finished listing citations. Now to ensure that all medieval MSS have images of their entries in Mynors’ catalogue linked.

12.30 reader 1 departs

12.45 reader 2 is finished for the day and has come across very exciting useful things in Bod for me!!

1pm chuck out reader 3 and head over to lunch. Waiting for an Exciting Delivery.

1.30 I return to St Cross. The Exciting Delivery is on its way! I pretend to carry on calmly linking catalogue images.

2.10 readers 1 & 3 return.

2.15 Exciting Delivery arrives. Needs unpacking, documentation, number assigned, entry in database, putting away, delivery thanks to sender. More about it soon…

3.15 back to work. Might as well finish the MS catalogue links as there’s only a page to go, then that’s something done properly.

4pm Links are complete. Need better descriptions of MSS 451-473, but that’s for another day. Phone rings, publisher chasing an ENORMOUS photo request.

4.50 Done and sent. Unfortunately nobody had happened to ask for individual photos of those men before – the rare repeat request occupies only a matter of seconds. 10 minutes left – continue sorting March’s enquiries.

5.20 all readers gone.

Compare the day’s progress with the theoretical schedule: no resemblance really, and that list for an unallocated hour is disappearing into next week. Tomorrow is Tidy Friday – no readers in, so whatever the supposed schedule says, I will be in the repository for a large chunk of the day, putting away records produced over a very busy couple of weeks.

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