Kalisha Piper-Cheddie, Final Year BA Fine Art with Contemporary Cultural Theory, writes:

This summer I began a campus internship as a digitisation intern for the International Textile Collection (ITC), working closely with the Digital Content Team to identify, retrieve and digitise important elements of the collection. Having always had a keen interest in archives it was incredibly exciting to get first-hand experience into exactly how archives operate and contribute to the inner-workings of the Special Collections department.

I worked specifically with the pattern books from the ITC many of which were transferred from St. Wilfred’s Chapel to Special Collections. The volumes are sample pattern books put together by staff of the Department of Textile Industries which began in the Yorkshire College in the 1880s prior to the college gaining university status in 1904. Mainly from the late 19th and early 20th century, the books are dated with the season and year, for example, Spring 1898, and the type of material such as silk or wool. It has been fascinating to see how fabric samples have changed over the last 100 years or so and how some still appear very contemporary.

I received training to work with specialised digitisation equipment, specifically the ATIZ machine which I worked with consistently through most of the summer. This allowed me to capture images of the pattern books.

Although understanding this new software was a learning curve I quickly got to grips with it and was able to digitise almost 70 pattern books during my time in the digitisation studio. I was also very lucky to be trained on the Phase One cameras and to work side by side with the digitisation team on other projects using the equipment. This is all specialised equipment and software so the chance to be trained on and use this first-hand has been an incredible experience.

black camera and open book, the camera is set up to take an image of the book
Phase One camera set-up. Image credit Leeds University Library.

Every single person I encountered within the library department has been incredibly welcoming and helpful towards me which has made my internship even more of a positive experience. I have especially enjoyed working closely with the digitisation studio team and making the studio my home for the past couple months, everyone was so kind as to make me feel like a part of the team straight away. I was lucky enough to attend the Library Staff conference in June which felt like a real celebration of all the great work the university libraries do. There were also many dedicated sessions for me and the other summer interns so that we could all get a further insight into different areas of the library, I particularly enjoyed a glimpse into the world of conservation.

Learning about how archives operate has been an invaluable experience, and I have learnt so much from this internship.