Meet the volunteers: Pei-Ning Lin

As a foreigner, I didn’t expect that The Keep would be willing to accept me as an intern. I’m from Taiwan, and thought the difference in language and culture may cause communication and understanding barriers between us. I also thought that this archive centre would be very serious and not easy for the public to access. So when they sent me a confirmation letter and gave me the opportunity to be their intern, I felt extremely happy.

The reason for being an intern at The Keep was mainly for my MA research, which is related to digitising historical recordings, and my interest in archive work. Luckily, the British Library is working on a national five-year project: Unlocking Our Sound Heritage (UOSH), and The Keep is one of the institutions involved. The Keep is responsible for digitising sound recordings in the South East. It is an important project, no matter whether it is for the public in the UK or for foreigners like me. The project aims to save historical sound recordings that have been affected by the advancement of technology. Old technologies are degrading or, because of the limitation of preserving time, they may not be able to be played in the future and recognized by the public. These historical recordings may be “locked” in archives or old cassettes. I think this is the reason why the project uses the term “Unlocking” in its project name.

Pei-Ning Lin (left) at The Keep with Caroline Marchant-Wallis (centre) and Karen Watson (right)

Although my internship lasted only three weeks, Esther Gill of UOSH and Karen Watson and Caroline Marchant-Wallis of the University of Sussex Special Collections gave me a lot of opportunities to take part in different tasks and jobs, to help me understand what an archive is, what an archivist is and what they do. For example, for UOSH, I arranged the call sheets for BBC Radio Brighton, which is part of the process of cataloguing files. Call sheets are written documents from the BBC Radio Brighton’s sound recordings and show the tape’s size, the title of the broadcast, hosts, producers, date and a brief introduction to the tape. Another task I was given by Karen and Caroline was to sort fan mail sent to Lord Richard Attenborough. I also got to digitise 500 letters sent to Leonard Woolf from Evangeline Levine, an American fan.

In addition, I took part in PGCE teaching sessions run by Mass Observation Outreach and Education Officer Suzanne Rose, which are for those who are going to be English or history teachers. It is really amazing that history teachers in Britain have this kind of opportunity. They are encouraged to inspire their students’ love of studying history, and to understand the importance of an archive. The Keep is willing to help those teachers doing research, and encourages people to use its resources, no matter what they are planning to do; research, teaching, or just merely out of curiosity. I think it is a good way to introduce an archive to the public, because people learn most things when they are students. Through education, people can really understand what an archive is and what it can be used for.

I also really appreciated that Esther and Karen agreed to be interviewed by me and answered most of my questions. In addition, they provided me a lot of information to help me to develop my research. I think I can bring my internship experience at The Keep to my country and can share this experience with more people

Volunteer With Us!

Are you interested in taking on something new?

We are looking for people who are:

  • Interested in working with sound recordings
  • Keen to develop their skills in cataloguing and research
  • Curious listeners with a sharp ear for detail
  • Keen to develop their skills in cataloguing and research

Email us at UOSH@sussex.ac.uk to find out more information.

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