RESP Outreach Intern – 1st May, Launch Event

Written by: James Rice, RESP Outreach Intern

With the arrival of May, my internship was close to an end, but, not before the in-person launch event for Rebekah’s online exhibition; representing the culmination of both her and most of my work so far!

Coming in on the 1st May, there were many last second arrangements for the event that afternoon. First, liaising with the team, I organised where each of my colleagues would stand to welcome and direct our guests to the CRC on the 6th floor about 20 minutes before the event itself at 4pm; each taking either an A3 or A4 stand displaying the signage for the event. In doing so, I prepared a guest checklist for the building’s security just in case any of our guests were missed by a colleague and found themselves being ID’d by staff.

After which, I ensured that the monitor in the Research Suite where the event would be hosted was functioning as intended, while the Ipads we hoped to provide guests where fully charged with the exhibition’s website accessible. While I did check on these factors the day prior, I thought it would be best practice just to confirm once again ahead of the event in case of any issues.

While the monitor worked fine, and I was able to stream my laptops screen and audio to the display, I found on the day that the provided Ipads did not work as intended. While everything else with these devices were functional without any issue, I had yet to test Rebekah’s exhibition on them until it finally launched that day. Upon testing this, I found that the Ipads (which had not been updated in several years) struggled to display the on-line exhibition as intended; instead presenting metadata and incorrect formats across several of the webpages on the site. Despite this, the RESP team came together and decided to allow guests to use our laptops to access the page instead.

Photo taken of myself reading out at the live launch event for Rebekah Day’s ‘Animal Encounters in the RESP’.

With this crisis averted, my last responsibility on the day was to ensure that our catering order was still set to be delivered between 3pm and 3:30pm ahead of the event. For whatever reason, the order confirmation was no longer displayed on the teams account history. But I was able to run downstairs and check with the catering team and confirmed that we were all set to go as the time came.

Photo of our exhibit display.

After this, the event ran without a hitch. We were grateful for the speech by our guest, David Paterson, who spoke of his brother Logan who was interviewed as part of the Dumfries & Galloway RESP in 2013. Likewise, we were treated to a wonderful performance by Dr Jo Miller, who is a singer, fiddler, ethnomusicologist, and community musician based in Stirling. Overall, despite the issues that arose this was once again a  brilliant experience. The problems that did arise were evident that in reality, there is no perfect setup to an event. Hiccups occur and you can’t predict the unforeseen. But, the key here was not to panic, be open with those around you, and focus on finding a solution ahead of time to minimise problems.




RESP Outreach Intern – April

Written by: James Rice, RESP Outreach Intern

April was the last month before the launch of the online exhibition curated by Rebekah Day. As such, my main priority was ensuring that everything related to the event was set and ready.

However, as a student balancing my role with my studies and volunteering, this month was filled with deadlines that I had to prioritise. As such, I learnt very quickly what to prioritise during this time.

For starters, I ensured that the final text for both Eventbrite and our invites were completed and sent out to our guests made up of staff, volunteers, and interviewees alike. Additionally, I ensured that signage and the designs of our postcards were likewise completed after Rebekah shared her new updated design for the RESP website. Finally, liaising with the team, we updated our food order to include a variety of drinks and sent it off.

In the following weeks, I completed another draft video tutorial that I shared with the team, wrote up summaries in preparation for these blogs and briefed our planned speakers for the event.

Finally, in the leadup to the 1st of May, I began scheduling relevant posts from the RESP archive for our X (Twitter) account, before sending out a follow up email for attendance. On the 1st itself when the online exhibition launched, a specific post was shared celebrating the event and encouraging the public to view Rebekah’s work.

Evidently, this month primarily focused on the final elements of the launch event. I was overall pleased with the progress made here, and as the event seemed ever closer, I was increasingly excited to see how our work would pay off.

Launch Event Tweet (X) promoting the ‘Animal Encounters in the RESP Archive’, 1st May 2024.

RESP Outreach Intern – February

Written by: James Rice, RESP Outreach Intern

With my pitch given and what I hoped to achieve with my internship outlined, I could begin planning how to carry out my responsibilities.

In the first week of February, I dedicated a lot of my time to exploring our online archive for a few reasons. First and foremost, having decided to produce a number of activity sheets, I wanted to determine what themes I would focus upon, as well as what entries I could potentially use for their recordings. Eventually, after meeting with the team, we decided that themes relating to ‘Sport and Games’, toys, transport, the changing environment, and food to name a few, were ideal for worksheets aimed at kids. We also thought that an Oral History worksheet that described the significance of oral histories and the ability to record spoken stories was perfect here, as it would bring more attention to the reason why the RESP archive is so special. By the end of the month, I had begun to draft some of these sheets for this purpose.

‘Oral Histories with the RESP’ worksheet, page 1, created by James Rice

Second to this, in regard to producing promotional materials such as postcards, having a variety of images from the entries within the project itself on-hand was important. While we did consider using images from Scottish archives with permission for some of our postcards, we concluded that it would be more appropriate to use our own images to invite the public to see what our archive could offer them. In this light, I decided with my colleague, Rebekah, that I would use ‘Canva’ as a free editing software to produce these materials.

Third and finally, having also decided to eventually produce a video tutorial for the website, being hands on with the archive was the best way to familiarise myself in preparation for the video itself. Fortunately, the process of editing and finalising this video wasn’t too much of a challenge, as I already had some experience with recording software and using ‘Adobe Premiere Pro’ for short videos I made with friends. Yet, as we hoped that this video would be relatively short, I admittedly struggled to be as informative as possible while keeping this limited. Nevertheless, I was prepared to start recording raw footage and audio for several drafts to be discussed with the team.

Alongside these responsibilities, I had also begun planning the launch event on the 1st of May for our online exhibition led by curator Rebekah Day. This involved organising and booking the physical space for the event in the CRC, as well as liaising with Daryl Green, Head of Heritage Collections at the University, to organise an opening speech on the day. I also started putting together an ‘Eventbrite’ page for the launch itself, giving guests a platform to accept their invites and a relatively easy way for myself to keep track of those attending.

While this period involved a lot of planning ahead for my role, there was still a lot for me to do over the next coming months ahead of the launch. Nevertheless, I was particularly proud of what I had been able to accomplish thus far, and felt far more confident in my role in light of the previous month, when I was still finding my footing for what I wanted to achieve.

RESP Outreach Intern – January

Written by: James Rice, RESP Outreach Intern

Going into the new year, January was a particularly important period of my internship that saw me shaping what I hoped to achieve through my work with the RESP. By the end of the month, I hoped to pitch my ideas to the team at St Cecilia’s Hall to determine what was feasible within the time frame of my internship.

Concert Room, St Cecilia’s Hall

However, this was not as straight forward as it initially seemed. When it comes to outreach and bringing attention to a project such as this, there are so many avenues that could be taken. For example, I first contacted the Scottish Society for Northern Studies to determine if they would be willing to publish an article that I would write on the RESP. Then, I emailed the Student Newspaper for the University of Edinburgh, with the intention of bringing awareness among students to the archive.

Unfortunately, I found little success in either of these two options. Nevertheless, I decided that I would continue with listing contacts and colleagues I work with at the CRC to determine what opportunities may be available for me going forward.

As I still hoped to engage students at the University with the project, I began looking into student societies relating to poetry and drama after seeing an outreach event at the National Archives. While volunteering in London, with a local university the archive put together a performance based off of archival material with students. With this, I considered contacting poet and writer in residence, Michael Pedersen, to see if he would be interested in writing something for the project. Yet, when pitching this idea, we decided that this would be difficult to achieve in the short time that I had to organise an event for this.

In another case, I met with Laura, the Engagement Officer for the Heritage Collections at the University. Through Laura, we discussed engagement opportunities through the creation of an ‘Activity Pack’ aimed at local primary and secondary schools. While we decided later that interacting with schools was not a route we hoped to look into, my team agreed that creating a few worksheet resources and a dedicated ‘Kids Page’ on the RESP website would be a great idea for the project.

At the pitch, myself and my team felt that alongside these sheets, producing promotional material and a video tutorial for the online archive itself was best for what we hoped to achieve. Promotional items like themed postcards and pencils were a simple way to get people curious about the RESP, while a video tutorial improved accessibility among users unfamiliar to our website or online archives in general.

Overall, while at times I felt discouraged as I found myself scrapping ideas or running into dead ends when thinking about how to engage in outreach, January was an important personnel step for me; allowing me to realise that some ideas falling through is just a natural part of the process. Without that, I wouldn’t have decided upon how to promote the RESP going forward.

RESP Outreach Intern – Late November & December

Written by: James Rice, RESP Outreach Intern

Hi there, I’m James, a part-time MSc student in Islamic and Middle Eastern studies at the University of Edinburgh, and the Outreach Intern for the Regional Ethnology of Scotland Project. I have had an amazing time working with the team, while building experience and a sense of responsibility working in the Heritage Sector. As such, I thought it would be a great idea to keep note of my thoughts, goals, and some of the challenges I have experienced along the way and share them with you through this blog. I intend to look back upon this blog to recall my experiences and reflect on the work that I have accomplished, while sharing my journey with others who may also be looking to begin a career in the sector.

For this reason, I thought I would begin by summarising my experiences month by month from the start of my internship up until now and the end of my contract.

After having gone through the interview process for two positions for the RESP, I was successful in being selected as the new RESP Archive Project Outreach Intern in November. As I work once a week while balancing my studies, you can imagine that my first two weeks were largely induction based, involving setting up my new work email, login details, work laptop and so on. Aside from this and the important (but often mundane) online training modules, this involved meeting the RESP team and becoming familiar with the Centre for Research Collections at the University.

The team is made up of Archivist Lesley Bryson and Assistant Archivist Caroline Milligan, who previously interviewed me for my role. I also caught up with fellow intern Rebekah Day. I first met Rebekah through the CRC’s Summer Heritage School organised by Student Engagement Officer, Serena Fredrick; who later advertised these positions for the RESP. As I found out on my first day, Rebekah had coincidentally applied for these roles, and was selected for the position of RESP Archive Project Curatorial Intern.

After these first two weeks and being informed of my responsibilities and what I could expect in my role, I tasked myself with gathering materials from the RESP archive for the project’s ‘Advent Calendar’ X (Twitter) feed; which involved writing and scheduling posts for the month of December, presenting users with an archival entry relevant to a Christmas themed hashtag. For this, I was provided with the login details to manage the RESP’s twitter feed hence forth. This was a great way for me to familiarise myself with the online archive itself and navigating the material available.

Soon after this period, I decided to start scheduling weekly posts under the hashtag ‘ThrowbackThursday’ that presented an interesting archival entry from our collection. During this, I thought I would try posting these ‘X’s at different times in the day to test engagement with the public:

The following week in the middle of December, Lesley, Caroline, and myself travelled to see a showing of the film ‘A film about life and work in the Musselburgh Mills’ in Tranent put together by The European Ethnological Research Centre (EERC). The film told the story of the mills through the words of those who worked and lived in the town and beyond. This was a great opportunity to see in person the significance of oral history and the impact of these stories upon local communities:

This first month gave me a lot to consider when it came to my responsibilities going forward and what was expected from me. While I have previously volunteered for the National Archives in London and the Heritage Collection for the CRC, this internship already gave me a new insight into the inner workings of the Heritage Sector!