Sustainable Exhibition Making: Recyclable Book Cradles

In this post, our Technician, Robyn Rogers, discusses the recyclable book cradles she has developed as part of the conservation team’s ongoing work to make exhibitions at the University of Edinburgh more sustainable.

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Is that Vegan…? Conscious conservation changes during the One Health Project and beyond.

By Amanda Dodd, Projects Conservator, Heritage Collections

In this week’s blog, Amanda Dodd reviews the work she did on the One Health Project with a particular focus on this use of more sustainable materials when conserving collections.

A ornate frame fashioned from a piece of wood in a grey box with a small photograph lay on a table to the left of the box.

Above: Rehoused R(D)SVS photograph and ornate frame of O.C. Bradley.

In October 2023 I took over as Project conservator for The One Health initiative. A little bit of background: The project, generously funded by the Wellcome Trust, was a monumental effort to catalogue, preserve, and provide access to three distinct archival collections pertaining to the evolution of animal health and welfare in Scotland from the 1840s onwards.​ These collections include the Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies (R(D)SVS), OneKind Animal Charity, and the Royal Zoological Society of Scotland (RZSS).

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A big welcome to our new Student Collections Care Assistants

We are delighted to welcome three new people to the Conservation and Collections Management Team this month. Abigail Miskin, Ella Joyce and Isabela Tapia Hernandez will be joining us as our first ever Student Collections Care Assistants.

Ella, Abigail and Isabela will be working with us until the end of July on a range of different projects and activities. Let’s hear them introduce themselves in their own words:

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The Art of Asking: Requesting Loans for Exhibition

By Morven Rodger, Collections Registrar, Heritage Collections

As the Collections Registrar, one of my core responsibilities is coordinating loans from the University’s Heritage Collections to external exhibitions. Whenever an item from our collections is requested by another institution, I work with our conservators, curators, and technicians, while liaising with the borrowing institution, to manage the risks and help make the process as smooth as possible.

I am always excited by new loan requests, and the prospect of sharing our collections with broader audiences, but no loan is without risk, and lenders must balance the risks and benefits to justify their decision to lend. The loan request is a borrower’s opportunity to make their case, explain why they want to borrow, show that they understand the practicalities, and demonstrate the value our items will add to their exhibition.

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Who Made the MIMEd 4477 Double Manual Flemish Harpsichord? (Part1)

In the first post of this two part series, our Musical Instrument Care Technician (and former conservation intern), Esteban Mariño Garza, discusses his Musical Instrument Research and Documentation Internship project to try and discover who made one of the harpsichords in the Musical Instrument Collections of the University. Continue reading

Lingerie, Giant Frisbees and Heavy Lifting: Tackling the ITI Collection at Edinburgh University

By Abigail Hartley, Appraisal Archivist and Archives Collections Manager

Colour image of white shelving along a long grey floor corridor. Three or four bankers boxes sits on each shelf, showing an extensive amount of material.

ITI prior to processing, totalling over 70 linear metres of material

Several months ago, my colleague Jasmine Hide and I wrote two introductory posts about our new roles and what they entailed. This time, I would like to draw attention to a collection we recently appraised, that of the Information Technology Infrastructure, or, in its condensed form, ITI.

Now, it is no secret that – aside from our crucial Digital and Web Archivist team members – most archivists are not experts on the early history of computing. Having said that, for sixty years Edinburgh has prided itself on its forward-thinking approach to IT, particularly artificial intelligence. This is therefore an important collection that needed processing.

Arriving from the Department of Computer Science in 2017, the collection contains material that shows the development of the Edinburgh Regional Computing Centre, as well as the development and implementation of large-scale computing projects, services, applications, and programs from 1966 up to around 2000. It will be of particular interest to anyone researching the development of computing science, both as a practical feature in people’s lives, as well as the academic field.

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It’s Friday the 13th!

It’s that time of the year when the leaves start changing, the air gets cooler, and I get creeped out by works in the collection…

As the Art Collection is an ever-moving beast, on display across the University of Edinburgh’s entire campus and beyond, I am responsible for overseeing the transport of artwork in and out of storage and ensuring locations are kept up to date. However, occasionally I can get spooked out by works that I swear that I’ve never seen before – a fitting topic for today’s Friday the 13th blog!

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Giving Decorated Paper a Home … Rehousing Books and Paper Bindings

In the first post of this two part series, our Collection Care Technician, Robyn Rogers, discusses her Decorated Paper rehousing project. If you want to learn about the uses, production, and trade of decorated paper, you can visit the online exhibition on this collection, curated by Elizabeth Quarmby Lawrence, here. Look out for the second post in this series soon, in which Robyn will discuss mounting loose leaf papers.

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CRC: A Space Odyssey – Day in the Life of a Collections Management Technician 

My name is Jasmine, and I’ve been working here at the University for five and a bit months as the Collections Management Technician. I’m the other half to Robyn Rogers’ role as Collections Care Technician, whose fantastic blog post about her recent work you can read here, and I work directly with the Appraisal Archivist and Archives Collection Manager, Abigail Hartley, whose equally wonderful blog post was featured last month.  

Abigail did a great job of defining appraisal and the challenges to the archivist when it comes to choosing what material to preserve. The archivist is often put in the position of assessing the ‘value’ of the record, a thorny process which comes with a number of ethical challenges. Thinking through these problems, it might seem easier to suggest that we simply keep everything we receive. If we get to keep everything, we don’t have to think through complicated questions, like what is the purpose of the record? And what is the purpose of the archivist? After all, if something has found its way into the archive, isn’t that an implicit statement of its value? Why appraise at all? 

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Appraisal Made Easy (If Only…): A Day in the Life of an Appraisal Archivist

Welcome to our Day in the Life Series, where each of our new team members will give you an insight into life behind the scenes at the University of Edinburgh’s Centre for Research Collections. In this post, our new Appraisal Archivist and Archive Collections Manager, Abigail Hartley, discusses what she has been up to since joining the Heritage Collections team in March. Expect one more post in this series, as we introduce our Collection Management Technician, Jasmine Hide.

You may have seen the other week my colleague Robyn upload a new blog regarding her role as Collections Care Technician. If you haven’t… Go go go! Take a look at the fantastic work she has undertaken thus far. Once you have returned, it is my turn to introduce myself and the work I’ll be tackling for the foreseeable future.

Let’s start from the beginning, shall we? My name is Abbie and I have been working at the University of Edinburgh as its Appraisal Archivist since April 2023. These past three months I have been creating an appraisal process and enacting some practice runs on smaller collections in preparation of being let loose amongst the backlog of records held at the assorted Heritage Collections sites across campus.

But what even is appraisal?

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