My work experience in the Richard Burton Archives

I entered my work experience with the ambition of embarking on a career as an archivist or a librarian. Having taken a previous placement at Singleton Library and enjoying it, I was excited to see the opportunities the Archives provided.

The Archives, when you first visit them, can seem intimidating. In the strong rooms you are met with rows and rows of boxes filled with old manuscripts, photographs, and plans. When you first come into contact with the materials you can feel a bit disconnected from them; either because of the subject or because they were composed so long ago. However, there is a need to remember that those producing these materials decades or centuries before were people. People, who lived, breathed, and had a full life. I was reminded of this when I was set the task of summarising oral history recordings for the “Voices of Swansea: 1920-2020 Oral History Project.” This is a project which aims to interview students and employees of the university from throughout its history as part of the ongoing work for the university’s centenary. Listening to the interviewee’s own voice talking about events I have heard about from history books or travel guides brought home to me the individual impact of history.

I was also given the task of transcribing a 19th-century manuscript. There is a need to be meticulous while doing this as one word can change the meaning of a document and may lead to the document being misquoted. The writing is sometimes hard to read because of the elaborate handwriting or the fragile nature of the manuscript. This provided a good example of how an archivist needs to be precise with their work.

A significant part of an archivist’s job is cataloguing and box listing materials deposited at the Archives. I was given the opportunity to box list some uncatalogued material from the University as part of this. It mostly contained correspondence detailing the creation of areas of the University. This not only increased the pride I have in the University of which I am a student; but also showed me the dedication, perseverance, and work that went into forming the University which many students now take for granted.

A particular interest I have is in the digitisation of materials. There is a rise in the need to make information as easily available as possible to archive users. While this will require a lot of time and resources for the archivist, it is worth it to make information accessible to researchers. I was able to digitise some University photographs for a researcher; this provided insight into the process and gave me an understanding of the challenges of digitisation.

What makes the University Archives are the people, they are always friendly and helpful. They have made this a very enjoyable experience and have made me more confident to take on the next step on my journey to become an archivist. This work experience has led me to deciding that while I might train to be both a qualified librarian and archivist, the archival profession is the path I see as most appealing to me. This experience has taught me so much knowledge about the profession; as a whole that is what an archive is, a place of knowledge for those that crave it.

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Fy mhrofiad gwaith yn Archifau Richard Burton

Dechreuais fy mhrofiad gwaith â’r uchelgais o ddilyn gyrfa fel archifydd neu lyfrgellydd. Roeddwn i wedi gwneud lleoliad gwaith o’r blaen yn Llyfrgell Singleton ac wedi ei fwynhau, felly roeddwn i’n edrych ymlaen yn fawr at achub ar y cyfleoedd a fyddai ar gael yn yr Archifau.

Ar yr olwg cyntaf, gall yr Archifau ymddangos yn lle eithaf brawychus. Yn yr ystafelloedd diogel, rydych chi’n gweld rhesi a rhesi o flychau llawn hen lawysgrifau, ffotograffau a chynlluniau. Mae’n anodd teimlo cysylltiad â’r deunyddiau y tro cyntaf rydych chi’n cyffwrdd â nhw; naill ai oherwydd y cynnwys neu am eu bod mor hen. Fodd bynnag, mae angen cofio mai pobl fel ni oedd y rhai a gynhyrchodd y deunyddiau hyn degawdau neu ganrifoedd yn ôl. Pobl a oedd yn byw, yn anadlu ac yn mwynhau bywyd llawn. Ces i fy atgoffa am hyn pan roddwyd y dasg i mi o grynhoi recordiadau o hanesion llafar ar gyfer “Lleisiau Abertawe: Prosiect Hanes Llafar 1920-2020. Nod y prosiect hwn yw cyfweld â myfyrwyr ac aelodau staff y brifysgol drwy gydol ei hanes, fel rhan o weithgarwch parhaus i ddathlu canmlwyddiant y Brifysgol.  Wrth wrando am y cyfweliadau, a chlywed lleisiau pobl yn siarad am ddigwyddiadau rwyf wedi darllen amdanynt mewn llyfrau hanes neu dywyslyfrau teithio, sylweddolais effaith yr unigolyn ar hanes.

Hefyd, ces i’r dasg o drawsgrifio llawysgrif o’r 19eg ganrif. Mae angen gofal mawr wrth wneud y gwaith hwn, gan fod un gair yn gallu newid ystyr dogfen a gallai’r ddogfen gael ei chamddyfynnu o ganlyniad. Weithiau, mae’n anodd darllen dogfen oherwydd y llawysgrifen gywrain neu natur fregus y llawysgrif. Rhoddodd hyn enghraifft dda o’r angen i archifyddion fod yn fanwl gywir yn eu gwaith.

Mae rhan sylweddol o swydd archifydd yn ymwneud â chatalogio a rhestru deunyddiau mewn blychau sy’n cael eu hadneuo yn yr Archifau. Ces i gyfle i restru rhai deunyddiau o’r Brifysgol heb eu catalogio o’r blaen. Roedd y rhan fwyaf ohonyn nhw’n ohebiaeth yn manylu ar greu rhannau o’r brifysgol. Yn ogystal â chynyddu fy malchder yn y Brifysgol lle rwy’n astudio, dangosodd hyn yr ymroddiad, y dyfalbarhad a’r gwaith a oedd yn sail i sefydlu’r Brifysgol – rhywbeth nad yw llawer o fyfyrwyr heddiw yn ei werthfawrogi.

Mae gen i ddiddordeb arbennig mewn digideiddio deunyddiau. Mae angen cynyddol i wneud gwybodaeth mor hygyrch â phosib i ddefnyddwyr archifau. Er y bydd hyn yn gofyn am amser ac adnoddau sylweddol ar gyfer yr archifydd, mae’n werth ei wneud er mwyn sicrhau bod gwybodaeth ar gael i ymchwilwyr. Ces i gyfle i ddigideiddio rhai ffotograffau o’r Brifysgol ar gyfer ymchwilydd. Drwy wneud hyn, ces i brofiad o’r broses a dealltwriaeth o heriau digideiddio.

Yr hyn sydd mor arbennig am Archifau’r Brifysgol  yw’r bobl, maen nhw bob amser yn gyfeillgar ac yn gymwynasgar. Diolch iddyn nhw, mae’r profiad hwn wedi bod yn bleserus iawn ac o ganlyniad, rwy’n fwy hyderus i gymryd y cam nesaf ar fy nhaith i fod yn archifydd. Er y gallwn hyfforddi i fod yn llyfrgellydd ac yn archifydd cymwysedig, mae’r profiad gwaith hwn wedi fy helpu i benderfynu mai’r proffesiwn archifo yw’r llwybr sy’n apelio ataf fwyaf. Mae’r profiad wedi dysgu cymaint o wybodaeth i mi am y proffesiwn; yn y bôn, mae archif yn ffynhonnell gwybodaeth i’r rhai sy’n ysu amdani.

September 14th, 2018

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