Our time with Collections
During our time with the Collections Department over the past two months we have gained an insight into the various different tasks they do. We have gained experience of cataloguing, accessions, rehousing, retrievals and records management.
We started off by getting to grips with Oracle, the database system that collections use. We begun by cataloguing the Non-Guardianship Monuments Collection which consists of drawings from the former Ministry of Works relating to historical sites not in state care. This collection was quite interesting since the material related to any monument not in state care there was everything from standing stones, country houses, castles and churches. After we had catalogued the drawings we started giving them DP numbers on Oracle in preparation for digitisation so they will be available on Canmore.
We also started shadowing Collections staff in the search room to see how they help visitors to the search room. As part of helping out in the search room we started doing retrievals which meant retrieving material from the collections store for search room visitors for their research. By doing the retrievals it helped us get more familiar with the different collections and material that RCAHMS hold.
As part of our time with Collections we learned about the accessioning process. We went to an architect’s practice with Veronica to select material for a new accession to the collection. Once we had brought the material back to RCAHMS we rehoused it and then accessioned it onto Oracle. Recently we also learned how to accession and catalogue archaeological records. These records are usually reports on an excavation by a commercial archaeology firm and differ from the Non-Guardianship Monuments Collection as the material in this collection consists of drawings whilst the archaeological records are manuscripts. This will be an ongoing task that we will continue to work on over the next couple of months.
During our last week with Collections we made a start on doing records management. We have been sorting through old correspondence which contained things like public enquiries and information on new accessions. We have to decide what records are worth keeping and which ones can be disposed of. This is a big task which we will continue to work on.
Although our two month placement with Collections has officially finished we will continue to work with Collections one day a week. Last week we started a month long placement with the Scran team. Our project is to select images to edit from The Scotsman Publication collection which holds a staggering 66, 348 records. Wish us luck!