Traditional Skills and Collection Development Trainee with University of St Andrews





Opening up Scotland’s Archives

University of St Andrews - Library Special Collections Division

 Traditional Skills and Collection Management Traineeship

The deadline for applications has now passed, so please don't complete the application form.


Reports to:  Opening up Scotland’s Archives Project Manager
Location:     St Andrews
Bursary:       £14,500 per annum  (plus travel and training)


Traineeship purpose and context:

This traineeship is one of 7 offered this year in archive services across Scotland as part of the Opening up Scotland’s Archives project, supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund.

Opening Up Scotland’s Archives seeks to address three main areas:

• to diversify the range of people coming into the archives workforce;
• to address gaps in the skills available in the archives workforce and
• to offer new routes for people to work in the heritage sector.

We especially want to attract people from different working environments or voluntary sector backgrounds. Rather than solely focusing on specific qualifications, the aim is to identify people who can bring talent and energy and skills to the archival world, who are keen to develop their skills, who want to engage with their local community and want to create better accessible online services.


Host Organisation

The Special Collections of the University Library are key cultural assets of the University and nation and are thus preserved in perpetuity to support use by the University and wider communities.

The Special Collections Division holds rare book, archival and photographic collections which by virtue of the uniqueness or rarity of the items contained within them, their physical form, content, depth of subject coverage or other special significance, are distinguished from the general stock of the Library. They receive special treatment in terms of housing, management, cataloguing, consultation, preservation and conservation. The University Library has been collecting books and archives for its entire six centuries, and the photographic collections have been developed since the birth of photography in the 19th century. The main role of Special Collections staff is to enable physical and intellectual access to these collections while at the same time ensuring their long-term preservation.

A new reading room for access to our materials was a key element of the Martyrs Kirk Research Library development in 2012/13. We are also actively planning new, purpose-built accommodation, and hope soon to be in a position to allow the wonderful collections in our care to fulfil their potential for the University and world-wide research communities.

Our archival collections contain unique materials in many different formats, covering a wide range of subjects and a time span of two millennia. Our trainee has the opportunity to work in a busy Special Collections service and to focus on traditional skills such as palaeography, cataloguing and physical care of the collections.


About this placement

You will receive a mixture of practical and theoretical training in palaeography (reading old handwriting) from the 18th century onwards. You will also be trained in cataloguing into CALM archival software. You will combine the two skills to describe papers from the University’s archive so that researchers are able to use them. In addition you will help with the physical management of our historic collections, doing tasks such as re-housing, numbering, physical arrangement and re-ordering of materials. You will join a passionate and enthusiastic team working within the University Library’s Special Collections Division which also manages rare book and photographic collections as well as a busy reading room, and will be involved in the broad range of our activities. Additional learning opportunities will be provided through participation in the ‘Professional Skills Curriculum’ offered by the University.

As a partner in the Lottery funded ‘Opening Up Scotland’s Archives’ project, administered by the Scottish Council on Archives, the University wishes to appoint a trainee in traditional archive skills to work with us on managing our archival collections. 


Skills you will acquire during this traineeship

During the traineeship you will:

• Develop knowledge of archival standards, and how to apply these in practice, including an understanding of what archives are and why they are kept
• Develop communication and marketing skills
• Develop your research skills
• Develop skills in dealing with the public
• Strengthen your IT skills


Questions to consider

• Do you have an enquiring mind?
• Are you methodical and organised?
• Do you have good manual dexterity and attention to detail?
• Are you interested in the past and in helping others make discoveries?
• Would you like the opportunity to work with the historic archive of the oldest University in Scotland?
• Fancy being based in St Andrews for a year? 

We are looking for someone interested in a new career in the archive sector. 


Person Specification


• A good general education to Higher level, with at least Scottish Highers in English and Maths
• Commitment to and enthusiasm for a career in the archive sector, although no specific experience in the heritage sector is required.
• A methodical, investigative and highly organised approach (e.g. jigsaw- player, list-writer), with a good level of organisational and problem-solving skills, as well as self-motivation and attention to detail.
• Physical fitness and ability to climb ladders.
• Willingness to travel as required.
• The ability to communicate effectively both verbally and in writing.
• A reasonable level of experience of using standard word processing packages, basic databases, email systems and the internet.
• The ability to work independently and as part of a team.


• Latin or a modern language to Scottish Higher level.
• Customer-service focus.
• A full, valid driving licence.
• Evidence of interest in historical sources.

Candidates should not already possess a postgraduate qualification in the area of heritage, archive or museum practice.


Additional Information about the traineeship

During the traineeship you will build a portfolio of skills, experience and training designed for you to take forward into future employment.  At induction you will be provided with your training plan setting out the learning objectives and activities in more detail.  The training programme is responsive to the individual trainee requirements and you will therefore have the opportunity to liaise with your trainer to establish an individual programme of support.  The Digital Preservation Trainee will be expected to successfully complete a 10 credit-learning module at SCQF level 8 with the University of Dundee (involving around 15 hours of study per week over 9 weeks – only part of this study will be undertaken during working hours)

This may be used to count towards a future qualification in Archives or a related discipline.

The seven Opening Up Scotland’s archives trainees will regularly meet up at archive services across Scotland during the year to learn from their peers, attend a variety of seminars, group training and work alongside skilled and knowledgeable mentors within each host organisation. As part of the peer learning programme all trainees will take part in a training week at the National Archives of Scotland in Edinburgh. As well as your specialist focus area, training will cover: Outreach and Community Engagement, Digitisation, Digital Preservation, Collections Development and Traditional Archive Skills.

Trainees will also be part of an online community offering support and learning opportunities.  IT access, stationery and other reasonable resource requirements will be provided by the placement provider. 


If you require further information not found in the on-line information and FAQs please email

Location The traineeship will be based mainly at the Library Annexe, in St Andrews with some days spent at Martyrs Kirk.

Working arrangement This is a 51 week workplace-based traineeship starting in September 2016. You will work 37 hours per week.

Bursary £14,500 per annum

Nationality rules Applicants must be British or Commonwealth citizens with the right to live and work in the UK, or nationals of states of the European Union.

Closing date 15 May, 2016

Interviews These will be held on 27 June, 2016 

The deadline for applications has now passed, so please don't complete the application form.