– 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 in the life

Thursday in brief:

  • First thing: answer a few overnight emails. Get out next MS for student to photograph.
  • student intern working on photographing medieval manuscripts project in the office all this week – brilliant to have her help, as she will have photographed two manuscripts and completed a third in response to a request from several overseas academics working together on an editing project.
  • No readers to invigilate? Into the repository! lots of volumes and boxes to put away from a couple of box-measuring sessions and a busy reading room at the end of the year.
  • For a change, head into the small repository and (finally) make a full shelf check and locations list, by hand, with pencil and paper. Faster than using our old laptop!
  • process recent environmental monitoring data
  • engineers arrive to look at the air conditioning plant
  • after lunch, 36 new manuscript boxes arrive. Fetch out mss, attach labels to new boxes, start boxing.
  • conservators ring: I will visit them later to discuss a question about some material on the bench at the moment and take them the used (ugh) insect traps for their regular census. We have never caught any really worrying beasties, so we’re moving to 6-monthly monitoring instead of quarterly.
  • Collect bug traps from strategic places around the building. Mostly harmless but a peculiar grub-looking thing in one of them, never seen the like before. This may take some research… Off to conservation studio with bug traps, back with a couple of manuscripts that have had all the little repairs they need in preparation for boxing. Put them away – their new boxes won’t arrive until the new year.
  • continue boxing manuscripts
  • ‘Type up locations list from this morning’ has been on the agenda all afternoon, but has been shunted to tomorrow (maybe) by the boxes arriving and the visit to Conservation. Sufficient unto the day…
  • No extra time to catch up after 5 today, stop by the lodge to borrow a gown and off to sing evening service at the Cathedral. Lots of Britten tonight!

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