On Monday evening my book history and publishing class took a trip to the University archives, located in the basement of Tower Building on campus. This was actually my first ever visit to the archives, although I know other subjects make much better use of the facilities offered there. I, for one, definitely wish I had visited sooner!
The archives are open between 9-1 and 2-5 on Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Fridays and while the items are not able to be borrowed, students are able to photograph for future reference. You can search for relevant materials prior to your visit on the website and the archive staff will assist with finding documents and even interpreting them. The breadth of topics covered is enormous, and so there may well be plenty for you to use in essays or research no matter what subject area you specialise in- it’s not all just for us humanities lot!
The archive lady (I’m so sorry, I can’t remember her name!) gave us an introduction to the services offered and how we would go about carry out our own research for our case studies. She spoke about the variety of documentations held by the University, including records from an eighteenth century psychiatric hospital and a piece of parchment from 99AD!
As a first time visitor, I was mesmerised by the books upon books available within this exciting basement wonderland! Of course, we were also there as a class for a specific reason and so we were soon introduced to the archival collections of Canongate Books (an Edinburgh-based publisher who publishes the likes of The Life of Pi and Under The Skin), as well as Publishing Scotland. This was a truly great experience due to the variety of documents held by the University. We gained an insight into the editorial process of book publishing- reading letters sent between authors, editors and professional readers with ideas for revision and possible book covers etc. We also looked at the variety of book covers and marketing techniques used by publishing houses throughout the world- being able to see interpretations of the same book by different countries side-by-side was quite eye-opening.
It was really great to have the opportunity to gain an insight into an area of UoD that I had no previous experience of. I was completely unaware of the wide-ranging sources that there are available on campus, from a variety of sectors, and so I am very greatly that I was able to go along and see for myself. I also got to take away these postcards with archival images of Dundee on them!
If you would like any more information on the services offered by the University of Dundee Archives, then have a look on their website here!