Digital Archive Curating – What I do in a Day!

September 29th, 2022

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I’m very creative, love colour, history and industrial architecture and am definitely a visual learner myself, so I knew from the minute I saw this job advertised that it was something that ticked a lot of boxes for me and decided to apply. I started in February this year as part of a National Lottery Heritage Funded project, named Weaving The Web.  The project looks at the accessibility of the wonderful Mill Archive in a ‘digital world’.  Sounds simple eh? But what does it actually mean?

Well, it’s safe to say that so far, no two days have been the same!  The main task is the creation of 360-degree digital representations of a long list of artefacts here in the Archive.  I have worked with a Photographer from the University in Leeds to set up a protocol for the photography format and am continuing to work my way down a list which includes a Comptometer and a Twadell Measure so I’m learning a whole new language – The Language of the Mills.  I’m really enjoying having input into the choice of objects; sometimes the outside of the box or tin is as fascinating as the contents and deciding how we represent that can be challenging in itself, as well as a huge variation in size, from tiny letter weights to full-size mannequins dressed in designer suits.

As part of the project, we have also been working with a number of different groups to deliver Workshops on the process of creating the digital representations, firstly the group from the local Specialist Inclusive Learning Centre who have taught me so much about accessibility and inclusivity in the digital world and the barriers they experience.  It’s also been really fascinating delivering the workshops to other groups which have taken us down diverse rabbit holes varying from the ethics of Artificial Intelligence to the intricacies of Lego, Harry Potter, coffee pots and so much more!

I’m also responsible for Social Media content for the Archive.  I often work on the same days as our committed gang of Volunteers who every week keep on with the mammoth task of conserving and documenting 200 years of mill history.  I often get a shout ‘come and look at this’ or ‘this will look good on Insta’ and I love running with their enthusiasm and knowledge, creating interesting and visually exciting content that conveys that enthusiasm online.

Fast forward seven months and every day in the Archive is still a wonder.   Bringing the history and colour of 200 years to life in the 21st Century is worth getting up for!

By Digital Archive Curator Alison McMaster

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