By now you will probably be experts in using the library (if not you can consult our helpful post and/or get in touch with the nice library folk), but have you ever used the archives in Aldham Robarts? Perhaps you have heard talk of The Lower Ground Floor and wondered what happens down there…? Well, wonder no more for the mysteries of LG are about to be revealed.
If you look up the Archives and Special Collections on the LJMU website you can find out about their impressive and exciting collections. If you have an interest in researching something particular that’s the place to look. You can find all the information regarding when you can visit and who you should contact via that website. If you get in touch with them, I can guarantee you will be welcomed by someone lovely, knowledgeable, and very willing to help. There is a lot of really exciting stuff down there, from the Willy Russell Archive to The Punch and Victorian Periodical Press Collection. There is also a lot that’s not listed online, so if you don’t see anything you are particularly interested in it’s still worth getting in touch and going to have a look around because there is certain to be something that will catch your eye.
I didn’t use the archives at all during my first year because I didn’t really know what they were for but I’ve learned that it’s a really great resource for students with a wealth of opportunities. If you want to develop your research skills for your degree, or you fancy learning something new, or you’d like to gain some experience to put on your CV then you will definitely benefit from acquainting yourself with the archives.
I started volunteering over the summer and am continuing a few hours a week during term-time. Over the summer I was assigned the task of making a box list for the newly arrived collection from The Unity Theatre. This involved rummaging through 50-odd boxes of Official-And-Secret-Theatre-Stuff and making a list of it all on an Excel spread sheet. I was the first person to see what was in these boxes, which was very exciting indeed, and my personal highlights were: hundreds of really cool show posters-some from as long, long ago as 1985, a series of extremely tense letters between the theatre and the architects hired to do a refurbishment job regarding the arrival of THE WRONG SORT OF CARPET, and a rope noose which was (hopefully) an old show prop. I didn’t have any particular interest in theatre before but I’ve learned about the inner workings of The Unity Theatre and its really interesting history as The Merseyside Left Theatre, just by nosing through their really cool things! Now I am working on listing the Liverpool Biennial Archives which is a much more organised collection-it’s in filing cabinets and everything-but every bit as exciting.
There are always a lot of exciting things happening down in the Special Collections. There are loads of exciting events happening involving the Femorabilia collection of 20th century girls and women’s magazines. Whatever you’re interests are, I guarantee it’s worth your time checking out Special Collections before you leave LJMU. Follow the link to their website at the top, and plan your first visit!
-Katie and T.E.A