Venturing out of the Archive!

While most of our posts will be based around what’s going on in and around the archive, we are of course part of the much larger institution that is the University of Huddersfield! A vital part of our role is promoting the archive to internal staff in addition to students and researchers as we’re a resource for everyone. We work with lots of internal departments, including Legal, Marketing and Alumni, in addition to the seven teaching schools of the university. Part of that means getting out and about and meeting other staff, and to that end, the archive was a bit quiet this Wednesday as many of the team attended the university’s annual Support Staff Conference. The idea is that around 200 support staff sign up to different sessions, some educational and some recreational, in order to pick up some useful new skills for the day job, and network among staff teams they might not already know!

On the educational side staff in the archive attended sessions on Time Management and Stress Busting, to Personal Branding and Women in Leadership (Huddersfield does quite well in this area compared to other HE organisations!) The Personal Branding workshop was interesting as a large part of what we do in the Archive is advocacy, both for what’s in our collections and the importance of maintaining our services. It’s a key skill many archivists have to develop. How do you effectively explain who you are and what you do to someone who may not quite understand what an archive is? Even more tricky, how do you do it in an engaging way that makes them want to know more (or even visit you!)

As a relatively new starter to the organisation I’ve been in this position with staff across the university over the past six months, but I think a regular review of what is or isn’t exciting or interesting to tell someone you’re just meeting for the first time is always useful! The fact that we all attended a range of workshops between us means we can reap the benefits from them all as we share the skills and tips across the staff team. Tips for dealing with email and not becoming distracted from a task by another one are particularly relevant in a busy archive service!

The afternoon was filled with more recreational activities, from Zumba to chocolate tasting and tours of some of the university’s more technological facilities. One archivist was very impressed by the robotic patients of the nursing simulation lab, who reacted appropriately when injected with certain drugs! This blogger enjoyed an afternoon forming a ‘Scratch Choir’ with twelve other members of staff who were complete strangers at the beginning of the session. Not only did we all know each other much better two hours later, but we also performed ‘Hallelujah’ by Leonard Cohen (acapella – in three part harmony!) for the rest of the 180 conference attendees at the closing session! Scary but fun!

Sometimes, the temptation to skip events like these, especially when work is piling up, is almost too tempting, but they are often very worthwhile to go to. Apart from the fun element, the networking side provides another opportunity for advocacy, not only do more people know us now, but we’ve been able to make contacts in other departments, like PR, the Alumni office and Student Support, that will provide us with opportunities to connect different audiences with our archives, once the move to the centre is complete!

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