By Vanessa Freedman, on 8 September 2016
Monika Biesaga, a PhD student from the Jagiellonian University in Kraków, has been working on the Jewish pamphlets project as a trainee through the Erasmus+ scheme. Here are some of her thoughts on the placement:
If you think that working in a library is boring, you couldn’t be more wrong! Especially when it comes to working in a Special Collections section.
As an Erasmus trainee, for over two months I’ve been taking part in the project Uncovering UCL’s Jewish Pamphlet Collections, discovering Jewish treasures stored at UCL Special Collections and learning new skills every day. I’m involved with every stage of the project – cataloguing, conservation and digitisation.
Before all the catalogued materials fall into the hands of readers, some of the pamphlets need to be cleaned and repaired. So under the guidance of two specialist conservators, I’ve been spending half of my traineeship in a conservation studio, handling very rare and fragile documents.
Another chance for coming into contact with the most precious pamphlets from the collection is the digitisation part. I’m more than thrilled to assist in this process.
It might sound a bit strange, but cataloguing books can be fascinating too… You never know what is hidden in a box that you’re going to catalogue. I’ve encountered a mixture of literary forms (from Biblical poems to a dictionary of telecommunication terms) and languages (like this Hebrew grammar book in Marathi).
I’ve also come across handwritten dedications, notes and even a curse:
And if you also think that working in a library is easy, again you couldn’t be more wrong! Just take a look at one of the bibliographic records that I created with the help of the Hebrew & Jewish Studies Librarian. For the uninitiated, all the numbers in the record may look like an “enigma code”, but records like this can be a key to the success of every researcher.