On the 2nd June, I was lucky enough to begin employment as the Employ.ed Digital Collections intern for the CRC. Although I begin with a little trepidation – like most people when they start a new job, I spent the night before worrying that I’d be really bad at it or that no one would like me – I am now in my fifth week and enjoying it immensely: I don’t really want to leave!
Focusing on the Oriental Manuscripts Collection, my project is to provide metadata for, and so increase access to, each of its 694 images. This means researching each image, as far as this is possible, as well as its parent manuscript, for information such as author, date and content, before inputting all of this information into Luna, the system through which our images are displayed online. Involving a lot of time spent pouring over hand-lists, accession notes and the internet for clues which are not often easily forthcoming, this probably isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, I know, but as someone who has always identified as bit of a history geek, I have found it to be incredibly interesting. In addition, I’ve also enjoyed the challenge: it’s a great feeling when you finally discover just what your obscure 14th century Persian manuscript is about! However, my favourite part of the process would have to be examining the manuscripts themselves, despite the fact that I am sadly unable to read any of the languages in the documents I have been working on: to my mind, there is nothing better than to hold something which is hundreds, if not thousands, of years old and feel the weight of its history in your palms. In order to celebrate this, I am hoping to exhibit some of the documents in the display wall on the 6th floor later this year, giving the public a chance to see such beautiful works, as well as to highlight the connections between these manuscripts and our own history in the West
Although I knew very little about the Oriental Manuscripts collection before I started, not to mention the recent history of Asia as a whole (as a Classics student I tend to focus my studies on a much earlier period), the collection has now got a special place in my heart and have become one of my all-time favourites: if you follow us on Flickr, you will notice that I’ve been plugging them relentlessly for the past few days with new uploads, while they are also the focus of our first ever album. If you don’t follow us on Flickr, please start https://www.flickr.com/photos/98144996@N07/ , it’s a fantastic way to access our resources and all images link back directly to our website, meaning they’ll still be OK for academic usage.
In truth, some of the manuscripts featured in the collection are absolutely awe inspiring and I feel immensely privileged to have been able to work with them.
Here are two of my favourites:
Gemma Scott, Digital Collections Intern