Why work in an archive?

Without archives, we could not trace our ancestry, explore our collective and individual identities, or hold governments and organisations to account.

Archives collect and safeguard materials in all media that challenge, inspire and transform what we think we know of times, events and people, past and present. It is crucial that these materials are preserved and made accessible.

A trainee working at their computer

Trainee Michael working at East Anglia Film Archive

As more and more records are born-digital or transferred from analogue to digital formats, the archives sector has identified key skill gaps in technical knowledge and experience that are not being fulfilled in many archives.

The Bridging the Digital Gap programme aims to address these gaps by enabling people with technical skills and interests to put them to use in an archive, and to learn about the specific digital needs of archival work.

Trainees in the first two cohorts have been involved in a range of activities and projects:

Digitisation and digital capture

  • Digitising paper-based materials and photographic prints and negatives, using a flat-bed scanner, BookEye scanner, DSLR camera and Photoshop
  • Digitising audio cassette tapes, films, and videos, using specialist equipment and software
  • Staff email capture and ingestion, using Microsoft eDiscovery and Archivematica
  • Web archiving, using Webrecorder, HTTrack, and Wget

Digital preservation

  • Ingesting new files and migrating digital collections in standard file formats into a digital repository, such as Preservica or Archivematica
  • Undertaking surveys of content stored in the digital repository and running regular profiles to record the content’s status, using DROID
  • Making preservation copies of media that are vulnerable to obsolescence and flagging up issues
  • Ingesting audio CDs, using Exact Audio Copy, BWF MetaEdit and Adobe Audition
  • Setting up the digital image workflow, using DROID, exif editor, Photoshop, Adobe Bridge, Python, Archivematica and AtoM (Access to Memory)
A trainee arranges a record on a table to be photographed from above

Trainee Michael prepares a record to be photographed

Cataloguing and digital access

  • Cataloguing a range of materials, including videos and oral histories, using archive systems such as Axiell CALM and AtoM
  • Expanding the metadata of archival films and videos on the host’s YouTube channel
  • Editing and uploading images to the catalogue
  • Setting up links from the digital repository to the cataloguing system to allow staff and users (where appropriate) to view the digitised (surrogate) images

Digital engagement

  • Contributing posts and stories to Instagram and other social media
  • Contributing to the Twitter campaign for World Digital Preservation Day
  • Geo-tagging images on the host’s website and print store
  • Assisting in managing the onsite Mediatheque terminals
  • Using Facebook’s Spark AR software to make an AR filter and Adobe software (Photoshop, Illustrator, Audition, Premiere) to create material for social media posts, linking together oral histories with subtitled video material