Our archivist, Dr. Craig Fees, has been invited to be the guest host for the Archives and Records Association's #ArchiveHour on Twitter on August 30th (2018). He will be online from 8 to 9 pm - posing questions, responding to questions, and taking part (or just standing back in awe at the technology) in the conversation that develops. The #ArchiveHour is a Twitter-based conversation that takes place on the last Thursday of each month from 8-9 pm, with a new theme each time, hosted by one of nine ARA nations/regions/sections and a guest host. It engages archivists and archive enthusiasts from around the globe. Craig will be tweeting on the PETT's Twitter handle @pettconnect.
This edition of #ArchiveHour is hosted by the ARA's Film Sound and Photography Group (@ARAFSPG).
The theme is:
1. A Complex Archive
Craig was Minutes Secretary and then Secretary of the Society of Archivists Film and Sound Group from 1995 to 2000, Directed its contribution to the Society of Archivists' 50th anniversary celebrations from 1996 to 2000, "Celebrating Memory: An oral history of the Society of Archivists and its Members", and facilitated the oral history sessions of the Society's Seminars for Newly/Recently Qualified Archivists from 1997 to 2002. He is a Trustee of the Oral History Society, and since 2010 has been course author and tutor in oral history in the Centre for Archive and Information Studies at the University of Dundee, originally within the Sound and Vision Module led by David Lee, and since 2014 as tutor of a stand-alone oral history module.
His career in archives began with research as a student in theatre history, which blossomed into a PhD in the Institute of Dialect and Folklife Studies at the University of Leeds from 1981 to 1988, on the immediate back of which he was asked by the Planned Environment Therapy Trust to research the requirements for establishing an archive, and what it would mean practically for a small charity.
In 1989 the Trust asked him to set the ball rolling, and in that metaphorical sense it has been downhill ever since: the PETT Archive and Study Centre has been steadily gathering speed, snowballing, hitting scree trees upslopes and boulders, and taking on a life of its own, winning two national awards along the way. Through this experience of developing an archive he was awarded Registered Member status of the Society of Archivists, now the Archives and Records Association (ARA), in 2003 - a member of the last cohort who could become Registered through experience, vs. an archive degree and experience. These things matter: reading, experience, and being with and among other professional archivists and conservators can teach you a great deal, and you certainly learn a lot from researchers and users, but it is not the same as taking a structured degree course. He is aware of some of his deficiencies, and aware that he has deficiencies he is not aware of, and is happy both to apologise and to learn. His personal website is here.
The Archive and Study Centre: Hybrid, Complex, or "Normal"?
The Planned Environment Therapy Trust Archive and Study Centre is a complex archive.
In archival terms a hybrid archive is one which holds both digital and paper records. The PETT Archive and Study Centre holds paper and digital records, so is hybrid; but it also holds sound (digital, reel to reel, audiocassette, minicassette, microcassette, minidisk, DAT, gramophone), video (again, many formats), photographs (positives, negatives, slides (glass and conventional)), film. It has a museum remit from the Trust and holds an array of meaningful objects, from furniture to toys, and includes a significant and extensive specialist research library. And while it is a formal research archive, built on the model of the Wellcome Library or the Harry Ransom Research Centre (scaled appropriately, and with a sense of humour!), it is also a community archive - an archive of, by, and for communities, who make active use of it.
On top of which it is a charity archive. All of which feels absolutely normal.