Francesca Miller works at her desktop computer in the Weston Library

Philanthropy Report 2021/22

Training the digital archivists of the future


Donor support is enabling the Bodleian to secure crucial, yet fragile, digital evidence of life in the 21st century.

The archives of the future will look very different to today. While books, manuscripts and other physical items will continue to be a valuable resource, research will also necessitate access to a range of digital records such as websites, emails, social media posts and text messages. For digital collections such as these, entirely new approaches to data handling and accessibility will be required.

With support from donors, the Bodleian is leading the way in ensuring that archivists develop the necessary know-how to capture, secure and make accessible digital resources for future students and researchers. The libraries’ flagship Trainee Digital Archivist Programme enables individuals to undertake a two-year paid traineeship. Through this they can acquire the skills required to assist students, researchers and the public to access these materials, many of which are incredibly fragile.

In the past seven years, the programme has supported 14 trainees and there are ambitions to train many more. This aim has received a boost in recent months thanks to the generosity of 150 donors, who have given over £38,000 in support of the Bodleian’s digital archivist appeal. These gifts will provide vital funding for the training programme, enabling an expansion of this specialist archiving expertise through the current workforce.

Bodley’s Librarian Richard Ovenden, OBE, said: ‘By securing crucial evidence of life in the 21st century for future researchers, the Bodleian can carry on its mission of storing and transferring knowledge down the generations. We are enormously grateful to everyone who has supported our digital archivist training programme.’

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