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  • Writer's pictureRebecca Somerset

New Year Hopes

At this time of year, we often take time to reflect on the year just gone and set goals for the year ahead. Each of the Archives team have thought about what their work hopes for 2022 are and although these are all in a similar vein, we share them as they were written.

Woman sitting at table with laptop and microphone in front of her. She is smiling towards the camera
Rebecca Somerset, Archivist

"Realistically I know that a lot of this coming year will be spent organising the Archives space once the building work is complete, re-shelving collections on their return to site and updating finding aids to reflect the changes, so the main hope I have for this year is that by the end of the year we will have a well organised space that is suitable for the long-term preservation of the wonderful collections we are privileged to care for as well as being a great space to work in (perhaps without the need for quite so many layers in the winter months as part of the work is to ensure better insulation!).

Perhaps more unrealistically given how much time will be spent on the above and dealing with the backlog of enquiries and other tasks, I would like to complete the cataloguing of the deposited Plater College Archives that I started back in late 2014, which has been put on hold first due to two maternity breaks and then the Covid pandemic. It is a rather large and remarkable collection and my list of those interested in the cataloguing progress is constantly growing. It would be great to update them with “it’s complete!”. Given the collections’ size it would also increase our overall cataloguing percentage, which it would be good to report was growing.

Finally, and more creatively, I would also like to explore recording more podcasts and perhaps even making this a regular feature rather than one offs. Whether I will have time to do so we can but wait and see!"

Woman facing towards the camera, smiling, with shelves of books in the background.
Mary Allen, Deputy Archivist

"It seems as though ‘more cataloguing’ has been an objective of mine for the last few years now, but my hope for 2022 really is more cataloguing! The pandemic threw a real spanner in the works with this particular aim – working remotely for the majority of the last two years meant that I just didn’t have access to the collections in order to physically process them. Days spent in the office were taken up with answering enquiries that had built up, accessioning records that had been accumulating while the archives were closed, and latterly in preparing the archives for the current building work. This in turn means that the archives will be inaccessible for the first few months of 2022, and time will need to be spent putting our office back together and dealing with the necessary admin of re-housing a large part of our collections in a new storage area once the work is complete. But once this has been done, I hope to spend the second half of 2022 working on one cataloguing project in particular: the Martyrs Cause Papers. I started work on this collection back in 2015 – it is large, complex, and utterly fascinating. You can read more about it here. The completion of this catalogue at this time is particularly pertinent given the 50th anniversary of the canonisation of the 40 Martyrs last year. Aside from this I am very much looking forward to returning to the Archives next Spring, which will have been transformed into a far more practical and workable space, and welcoming researchers again."

Woman facing camera, smiling, with shelves of books in the background
Lucy Vinten Mattich, Rare Books Cataloguer

"Without wishing to sound like a sports commentator, I think 2022 will be a year of two halves. Currently all of our book collections and much of our archive is in secure storage off-site while builders are completely reconfiguring our storage and office space. We three staff members are working from home until the work is done – luckily, we have become expert in this over the last couple of years. Once we get back into the office, hopefully by the late spring, we will be able to return to the more hands-on aspects of working in archives.

My area of responsibility is our old books, and in the second half of the year my main wish is to make good progress with cataloguing and caring for them. There is so much research which goes alongside the cataloguing, which makes the process fascinating, but slow. I construct protective enclosures for the most fragile books, which is satisfying as it will prolong the life of the books, and I enjoy the process. I’m looking forward to getting back to this somewhat ‘Blue Peter’ aspect of my job as well as the more cerebral areas of research and cataloguing.

I try to share interesting things I learn from the books and about them, via Twitter and blog posts, and am excited about investigating new ways of bringing our wonderful antiquarian books to a wider audience – perhaps a Jesuit Rare Books podcast?"

We'd like to wish all our readers a very happy new year! Check back next year to find out whether we reached our goals.

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