Stella Halkyard, Visual Collections and Academic Engagement Manager, writes:
Despite the cold a full complement of post graduate researchers braved the weather and ploughed through snow to attend the ‘Working with Archives’ workshop that took place at the John Rylands Library last Friday. The event had been organized for PhD students through the English Pathway of the North West Consortium Doctoral Training Programme and was funded by the Consortium, Manchester Metropolitan University (MMU) and the John Rylands Research Institute. Paul Wake (pathway leader) and Nikolai Duffy from MMU worked in partnership with curators from Special Collections at the University of Manchester Library, to deliver an exciting programme. Through the morning Fran Baker (Literary Archivist at the University of Manchester Library), David Sutton (Reading University) and Jennie Hill (Aberystwyth University) explored what literary archives are and how they can be found.
The students had the opportunity to see different forms of literary material culture in the flesh and to think about how they could be used in research. The poet Tara Bergin and Carcanet Press’s publisher, Michael Schmidt outlined their experiences as people who create literary archives. Andrew Biswell (Anthony Burgess Foundation and MMU) shared his perspectives on literary archives from the view of the biographer and critic whilst Wim Van Mierlo (Loughborough University), literary manuscript expert, delivered a paper on the theme of ‘Literary Archive or Literary Heritage’. The event concluded with a public lecture in the perfect setting of the Rylands Historic Reading Room, which was given by the great historian of the book, Alberto Manguel and addressed the immense cultural importance of libraries. The participants in the day’s events duly left the Library bitten by the bug of bibliomania and with their temperatures heightened by archive fever.