As a newly-qualified archivist many years ago, one of the first jobs I recall being asked to do (i.e. on day 1!), was to run the Map Room at the old record office in St Thomas’s church. I was fresh off the training course and a bit green, to say the least, so it really was a baptism of fire. I soon learnt that the ‘Maps’ bit was somewhat misleading, though the ‘running’ part certainly wasn’t. There was an awful lot more to it besides getting to grips with National Grid and County Series, tithes and enclosures, piddles and perches. You had to dash back and forth from the lift to collect documents for from the top floor search room, make friends with a grumpy photocopier, and trouble-shoot the microform viewers, all whilst trying to ‘supervise’ the public (or ‘searchers’, as we used to call them). Nowadays of course, we have ‘customers’ and ‘help desks’ which are a lot more user-friendly, though the running around part certainly hasn’t changed. They always say what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger, and gradually I got the hang of things. All those years later, I’m still here!
Continue reading “Life in a day”