Taking us into July is Liz McCarthy who’ll be giving us a behind the scenes look at two archives, one that will probably be known to you, the Bodleian Library, and one that you may be less familiar with, The University of Reading’s Museum of English Rural Life. I (Jess) have seen Liz in action with the Reading Children’s Literature MA students who do a project in the Special Collections’ children’s book archive: she is infectiously enthusiastic about the collections she works with so be prepared to want to book a trip to Reading/Oxford by the end of the week (yes, even if you’re following from Australia!).
Hello hello! I’m Liz McCarthy – @mccarthy_liz in my ‘normal’ life – and I’m thrilled to be your @wethehumanities curator this week! I come from the collections side of things in libraries and museums, but with a key role in helping share and shape academic research.
I’ll be tweeting from two different jobs, bringing you the best of special collections and the Museum of English Rural Life at the University of Reading as well as sharing insight into my role in social media and all things digital for the Bodleian Libraries at the University of Oxford. One of my most important roles in both jobs in finding ways to help others – academic and public – engage with library and museum collections and the research they represent. This might mean introducing a class of undergraduates to the 17th-century first edition of the work they’ve been studying, helping them understand why it’s important to understand the context of its printing and publishing, or it could mean developing a series of blog posts or Twitter and Instagram content for a project or an exhibition we’re working on. Recently it’s been everything from geocaching to Wikipedia to Reddit!
At the University of Reading, we’ve been working hard to build our programme of collections-based research – from PhDs to undergraduate placements – and I hope I can convey the importance of this type of work. Using primary resources provides a great opportunity for crossing disciplines and responds to the ‘material turn’ within humanities research. I’ll also be talking a little bit about projects I’m working on in Oxford – from thinking about ways libraries can engage with Wikipedia to how we measure the impact of special collections.
I’d love to use this week to talk about the ways that collections and cultural institutions can engage with researchers and can help researchers engage with the public. Ask away!