Signing off

After five years working at GCU Archive Centre and nearly a decade overall in the Sir Alex Ferguson Library and Archives, I’m leaving my post as Archive Assistant.

It may seem self-indulgent to write a valedictory going away message, but I wanted to use this a chance to reflect and be thankful for the time I have had here, the skills I’ve learned, the habits ingrained, and most importantly, the people I’ve worked with.

White man smiling at camera, seated. Books and magazines scattered around him

Me with materials from the Sandy Hobbs Urban Legends collection, March 2019

It’s been a privilege to learn these last years, to work daily with items as disparate as Scottish Trade Union Congress annual reports to Taggart scripts donated by Blythe Duff. I have learned best practice for preservation, I’ve learned how to list collections. I’ve written blogs and created exhibitions. I’ve represented the Archive Centre at external events and removed more staples and paperclips than I could ever count! I also had the honour of welcoming researchers to the reading room, explaining the nuts and bolts of copyright and data protection. I honed my people skills gently reminding them to ask first if they wanted to take a picture, and enforcing the golden rule of reading rooms across the world: use a pencil, never a pen.

Without going into full Oscars acceptance speech mode, there is a list of people I would like to thank. Sonya Campbell, formerly head of the LIST team, for hiring me to work at GCU. Robert Ruthven, for his leadership of the Library and Archives, particularly in this last year of tumult. I’d like to say thank you to every person I worked with at the library desk. From helping each other deal with long queues at the beginning of each term to powering through those long weekend shifts, I’ve loved working with you all.

Archive reading room. View in foreground of two white tables. In background desks with computers

My view in the reading room, August 2019

Thank you to my Archive Centre colleagues: Simon Docherty, Kirsty Menzies and Heather Panayiotaki. I’m so glad that in such a small team, each of you feels like a friend, that there is no malevolence or competitiveness and that everyone wants only what is best for the service. I’ll miss you all immensely.

Finally, I have to give the greatest of thanks to the University Archivist Carole McCallum. I have a feeling she’s going to hate reading all these compliments about her, but I’m leaving anyway, so here goes! Carole has been more than a manager. In many ways she is GCU Archive Centre. Her clarity of vision, her determination to never settle for anything less than the best of what something could be, her thoughtfulness, kindness and generosity of spirit made working here not only a joy, but a privilege.

I’ve learned working at GCU Archive Centre that archives are stories. They are the stories of the past, as the present will eventually become. My story at Glasgow Caledonian University is ending, but all stories are never truly finished. Much like the archives donated and collected, the memories I have will inform and inspire me in my next steps. I couldn’t be more grateful.

David Ward

Archive Assistant

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