Project Archivist

Closing date:

Amber CIC

Through a grant from the National Archives 'Archives Revealed', Amber Film & Photography Collective has an exciting opportunity for a qualified archivist to catalogue the AmberSide Collection.

Amber is looking for a motivated and enthusiastic individual with a professional qualification in archives management. You will have a detailed knowledge of relevant professional standards, best practice and legislation; excellent attention to detail; effective communication skills; and be proactive in problem-solving and managing your workload effectively. The role will be responsible for appraising and cataloguing the AmberSide Collection to international standards and best practices; undertaking preservation tasks and re-housing; liaising with and answering enquiries from key stakeholders, with the aim to upload the catalogue to Discovery/Hub at the end of the project.

About the Archives Revealed project

The Amber photographic archive comprises some 250 separate collections of photographic work, totalling 20,000 photographs, 10,000 slides, and paper files (supporting documentation, contracts, minutes, correspondence). There is 14TB of digital data, of which a very small amount is born-digital outputs from current educational work and the rest digitised copies, including of the Amber Films masters that are held at the BFI National Film Archive.

This project will catalogue Amber’s ‘core collection’ representing the unique work created or commissioned by the Amber Collective, together with the supporting paper records. 

The unique photographic collections include work by Sirkka-Liisa Konttinen, Tish Murtha, Isabela Jedrezjczyk, Mik Critchlow, Graham Smith and Chris Killip, all well-known photographers associated with the Collective. Chris Killip was also the first Director of the Side Gallery, opened in 1977 to show the work.

The Project Archivist would then concentrate on the paper archive, which is currently little known and largely unsorted but comprises four filing cabinets including files relating to the making of Amber films, papers of the original members of the Collective, papers relating to the Workshop Movement and Channel 4, including published and unpublished writings of Murray Martin, and the day to day administration of the Collective, the CIC and the Trust, including correspondence with former funders Tyne and Wear County Council and Northern Arts. Most historical enquiries currently received relate to Amber’s role in the Workshop Movement.

While the photographic archive is well packaged, the paper archive, once sorted, requires packaging and rehousing in the air-conditioned store.

The catalogue that this project will deliver will be transformational in a number of ways. It will open-up and provide access to the collection including to the very communities it represents and will allow the information to be placed on the TNA Discovery and Archives Hub discovery platforms significantly increasing and diversifying audiences.

Key Responsibilities

Cataloguing

  • Work with a Project Management board to create a structure for the catalogue using Epexio, identifying each individual collection or body of work, and creating a top level description for each one.
  • Create Authority records (or imported where already available) for the photographers and places represented in the collection. These will be in accordance with ISAAR-CPF. Many of the photographers are represented by more than one body of work, so these name authorities will be of particular importance in linking these appropriately.
  • Work with volunteers to start creating item-level descriptions of the photographic material. This will be an ongoing process and we do not expect the entirety of the core collection to have item level descriptions by January 2025. Priorities will be decided by the Project Management Board according to the themes most relevant to the schools programme. 
  • Create a full catalogue of the written archive, which requires sorting, appraisal and packaging as well as description.

Key objectives

Objective 1
Create a structure for the catalogue, identifying each body of work and top-level descriptions

Objective 2
Create a full catalogue of the written archive, which requires sorting, appraisal and packaging as well as descriptions

Objective 3
Upload the Catalogue to TNA Discovery and Archives Hub 

Measures of success

  1. Catalogue Amber’s ‘core collection’ representing the unique work created or commissioned by the Amber Collective to top level.
  2. Work with volunteers to start creating item-level descriptions of the photographic material.
  3. Create authority records (or imported where already available) for the photographers and places represented in the collection. These will be in accordance with ISAAR-CPF.
  4. Appraise and catalogue the paper archive. 
  5. Upload the catalogue to TNA Discovery and Archives Hub.

Qualifications and skills

Essential skills and experience 

  • Qualified Archivist (Accredited Professional Qualification) 
  • Experience of working in archives
  • Experience with archival cataloguing software
  • Up-to-date knowledge and experience of archival best practice 
  • Experience of archival cataloguing to national and international standards (e.g. ISAD (G), NCA rules, ISAAR-CPF) using an online cataloguing system
  • Commitment to making archives and heritage accessible to all by working directly with members of the public using participatory and open approaches 
  • Sound knowledge of GDPR, copyright and data protection legislation and practical application 
  • Proactive attitude and ability to manage own workload 
  • Excellent organisational skills 
  • Positive and open attitude to learning and skills development 
  • Computer literacy, including MS Office packages and Google Drive

Desirable Skills and Experience 

  • Experience implementing and developing digital systems 
  • Experience of cataloguing photographic collections following international standards 
  • Experience of working in a previously uncatalogued archive collection 
  • Understanding of digitisation projects and knowledge of imaging work 
  • Understanding of preservation needs of modern archives. 
  • Experience of using Epexio software or a similar collection management system 
  • Experience of working with mixed media collections

Competencies

  • Cataloguing
  • Communication and interpersonal skills
  • Organised, ability to multitask and prioritise workload 
  • Excellent writing Skills

Performance will be assessed annually through a formal performance review process. Regular check-ins and feedback sessions will also be conducted to ensure ongoing professional development. Opportunities for career growth within the organisation include potential advancement to higher leadership roles or specialised positions within the curatorial and creative fields.

 

Budget £32,233 p.a. (FT, 12 months fixed-term)

Deadline 1 July 2024

5 – 9 Side Newcastle upon Tyne NE1 3JE

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Interested candidates should submit their resume and a detailed cover letter addressing their suitability for the position to Laura Laffler with ‘Project Archivist’ in the subject line. 

Applicants can expect the hiring process to include multiple interview rounds and potential assessments. The expected timeline for the hiring process will be communicated to shortlisted candidates.

Amber Film and Photography Collective CIC is an equal-opportunity employer committed to diversity and inclusion.

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