Swinburne University Logo.

The course I am undertaking requires students to complete two separate practicum, one library focused and one records. Today I’m going to reflect on the records and archive practicum I completed at Swinburne in June-July this year.

I worked with staff across all areas of their Information Resources Group, which means I got to experience copyright, online repositories and content management, records management, archiving, digitisation, web development, user experience, knowledge management and of course see how records and information management work in a university setting.

I could see many benefits to having all information management under the same umbrella. Not only is it easier to collaborate knowledge and skills but there is also a greater chance of innovations developing with that many talented people!

I went into my practicum with a few goals:

  1. To experience information management in an academic setting.
  2. To gain experience and knowledge of as many parts of information management as I could.
  3. To learn how universities manage their information and deal with challenges.

By agreeing to host me Swinburne fulfilled my first goal. I believe, because of the unique grouping of functions and people in Swinburne’s Information Resources Group, that it was probably the best place for me to fulfil my second goal. My supervisors also introduced me to some of the challenges of their work which I was eager to learn about.

I understood from my studies that suitable storage for records is a necessity. Most organisations fill that need by sending their records to offsite storage: places such as RECALL, CAVAL or Iron Mountain. My practicum showed me the reality of that necessity. It is a constant juggling act between space vs cost where records managers are constantly asking themselves, can we justify sending these records offsite, what are their significance or retention span, how do we make more space when all storage is full? From this exposure I learned that these issues should be addressed at the start of a records life-cycle by teaching the people who make the records best practice. This is where the concept of knowledge management comes into play.

Knowledge management (KM) is the process of capturing, developing, sharing, and effectively using organizational knowledge. It refers to a multi-disciplined approach to achieving organisational objectives by making the best use of knowledge.

I have a knowledge management unit coming up in next year’s study, because of my practicum I am looking forward to studying the theory behind this practice.

Digitisation, user experience and web development have been interests of mine for years. Through Swinburne’s user experience consultant I was introduced to the academic world that studies human and computer interaction. I could see how much application user experience has (or should have!) in information management and design.

Example of some extraordinary binding I found in Swinburne Library Archives.
An example of some extraordinary binding I found in Swinburne Library Archives.

There was one mini project I completed at Swinburne which I knew I would love doing. What surprised me was how much I loved doing it! There were some deteriorating items in the library archive I was required to assess then provide recommendations for fixing the issue. Researching issues that can affect archival items was fun, delving into the records of what was in the archive and understanding the system used to order everything, was like a treasure hunt. But entering the archive itself and working with the items was bliss.

I’ve always seen myself as a people person, I enjoy a quiet day here and there but I’m definitely a people person. This project was completely solo work in the basement of the library, which was why I was so surprised at how much I enjoyed this project. I relished the little challenges of decoding the archive and some individual items that just didn’t seem to fit! The archives project gave me practice in research, making critical assessments and relaying my assessment in a succinct report.

I’m incredibly grateful to all the people who took the time to share their experience with me at Swinburne and I hope that this course always includes a practicum for future students because they are invaluable experiences.

Till next time!
DFTBA (Don’t Forget to be Awesome)