03 Feb

Bring on…the archive research training workshops

ArchiveresearchtrainingLast week 15 local and not-so-local volunteers ascended onto Splendid Things’ HQ to embark on some archive research training. Here’s what happened behind-the-scenes…

The team decided that the best approach was to offer our volunteer archive researchers two dates to choose from to attend a training workshop – one in the week, the other at the weekend. We did this as we were conscious that people’s other commitments varied from university study to working hours to childcare responsibilities and we didn’t want to exclude people from getting involved. This seemed to work out well as 15 out of the 18 people who originally expressed an interest in the voluntary role were able to attend. So far, so good…

The training days were split into two sessions; session one introduced the volunteers to the project and the British Newspaper Archive and session two introduced the volunteers to using the micro-film archive. The training team were initially worried that the timings of the different activities would be difficult to stick to because of (a) the amount of information being delivered in the sessions and (b) the travel time to and from Splendid Things HQ and the different libraries that we were using to conduct the training. But thanks to the smooth operations and staff at both Toxteth and Liverpool Central Library it all ran like clockwork…well, apart from a couple of late taxis but even that didn’t hinder us too much!

The team was also anxious as to how the research processes designed for the online and micro-film archives would work out when being used by a team of volunteers. This anxiety proved to be unfounded as the volunteers took to both research processes like ducks to water, and found the instructions and handouts easy to follow. At this point, the Splendid Things let out a collective sigh of relief.

What we have learned from this experience of designing a research methodology and training people how to adopt it, is that it is worth spending a significant amount of time developing research processes and fine-tuning your strategies. Through doing small-scale tests of the methodology before the training sessions we were able to iron out any issues with it and in reflection this made it significantly easier to train a team of volunteers in how to implement it. Whether or not the methodological approach was the right one to adopt for this project in order to give us the desired results is yet to be determined, and we will only be able to reflect on this later in the research process…but for now it appears to be working!

The training sessions were also well-received by the volunteers, with one person describing them as “informative and interesting”, another explaining how it provided them with an opportunity to “meet like-minded people” and another volunteer saying the training was “well delivered…a friendly approach”. So on that note we think we can give ourselves a pat on the back, before moving onto our next task – producing the research packs!