– 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.

archivist’s day

Following on from last month’s details of a typical month’s enquiries, I am also sometimes asked what I do all day. Here’s a sample, of a day mostly in the office, without researchers in person:

check emails before leaving home so the wheels can turn in my brain as I cycle

arrive – begin collating previous month’s enquiry & event numbers for the monthly report

phone rings – do I want any office furniture? I do not.

email arrives from library with blurb for forthcoming event poster that needs posting asap. Type up poster with illustration, print, take out to notice board with stepstool, key and some extra drawing pins. While there, passersby request entry to the church. This is not usually permitted but passerby identifies self as visiting lecturer.

Give visitors a tour and produce Ancient Document for them. They depart; log visit on calendar and DARS (alumni database).

Post forthcoming event poster as a blog post & point to it from Facebook and Twitter.

discuss forthcoming cleaning schedule with scout – needs planning as some tasks can’t be done and some areas can’t be cleaned while researchers are here

phone rings – family history enquiry. Enquirer does not use internet so take notes. Research, respond, log query.

Tot up the last week’s enquiries in monthly enq record document, answer half dozen out of 70+ for the month that haven’t been finished yet. Forward a couple of requests for permission to publish now that the requesters have sent in their paperwork.

Finish and post monthly report, and point to blog post from FB and Twitter.

Several of this month’s last outstanding enquiries require photography of short sections of 3 different medieval mss for overseas academics and grad students. Fetch mss, take photos, process half and post online.

Late for lunch! Lights off, alarm on,  lock door, check other door, lock gate, cycle to college.

Answer two queries from SCR members while eating and promise answer to another after checking sources.

Stop by College Office to pick up set of records for deposit in the archives. Check post. Cycle back to St Cross. Avoid running into tourists standing in middle of road to take photographs; avoid cars backing out of open-ended Broad St parking & attempting to drive wrong way down 1 way street. Alarms off, lights on, etc.

Process remaining photos from the morning, post online, notify enquirers. Return medieval mss to repository.

Record lunchtime enquiries and answer the one that needed sources checking.

Register and list contents of new accession picked up at lunchtime, package in acid-free folders and box, put away in repository.

Scan & send images of a document requested for internal administrative enquiry.

Finish collection description started earlier in the week. Post online. Finish numbering, arranging and repackaging collection (fortunately small) and return to repository. Create fonds level description for Archives Hub, submit. Create brief description for NRA-Discovery, submit. Link to new collection description from FB and twitter.

Put files got out for reference during the day back in the repository and reference books back on shelves.

Lights out, alarms on, stop by Broad Street with a book requested by a current student – collections remain as borrowable as ever and there are no borrowing facilities at St Cross.

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