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.