Friday, 6 February 2015

HIV/AIDS Project: After a short's back

After I had such a fantastic time as Archive Intern with LHSA towards the end of last year, I was delighted to make a return this time as Project Cataloguing Archivist, working to finish cataloguing the HIV/AIDS collection. From my time as an intern and reading Emily and Karyn’s blog posts about the project I had a fair idea about this great opportunity to work with such a modern collection. To recap, the HIV/AIDS collections at LHSA were inscribed to the UNESCO UK Memory of the World Register in 2011 because of their importance in the context, of the study of the history of medicine.  The collections are rich in their documentation of a significant period for Edinburgh and Lothian, 1983 -2010, in the fight against HIV/AIDS. This was one of the most serious threats to public health towards the end of the twentieth century, not only in Scotland but throughout the UK.

In order to complete the cataloguing project, to provide maximum access to the HIV/AIDS collections for future research, I have been tasked with the following:

·         Completing cataloguing of GD25: Papers of Helen Zealley, Director of Public Health/Chief Administrative Medical Officer (CAMO).

·         Completing cataloguing of GD22: “Take Care” Campaign.

·         Cross-referencing photographs and objects from LHB45: Lothian Health Board AIDS Papers, into the photograph and objects database.

But! One of the first jobs I had was to finish preparing a collection of digitised images and posters, from various HIV/AIDS campaigns, for access via the Scottish Cultural Resources Access Network [SCRAN]. Most of this work was already done but I was the lucky one who got to finish attaching metadata to the images and then hand delivering them to the SCRAN office based at Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland [RCAHMS]. It was great to get a behind the scenes look at how SCRAN actually delivers such an important educational resource. Working relationships between archives and online platforms, such as SCRAN, are so important to opening up unique and important parts of our history. The HIV/AIDS campaign images are now part of this online service providing access to thousands of images from archives, museums and galleries, representing Scotland’s past for mass leaning. Within a couple of days the images were up on the SCRAN website. Here is a taster of some of the images you can see just by following this link:

‘The one you love’ Take Care Campaign – GD22/PD1.4/115

‘Lovely Latex’ Take Care Campaign – GD22/PD1.4/58

‘World AIDS Day-Earth’ – GD22/PD1.4/81

Since then however, I have been cataloguing the Papers of Dr. Helen Zealley, Director of Public Health for NHS Lothian (previously Lothian Health Board(LHB)). The papers mainly consist of business/administrative papers including, reports/official documentation, correspondence, meeting minutes, and promotional material, relating to the running of LHB spanning an extensive period of time, c1975 – c2000. It has been really interesting to gain some perspective into the running of a major organisation from top level management. Taking responsibility for health services at this level is clearly going to be a challenging task. It is extraordinary to see how day-to-day issues, longer-term strategic planning, and also unforeseen threats to public health, are dealt with simultaneously.

One of the issues I have personally been tackling, in dealing with such a modern collection, is ensuring that appropriate Data Protection is placed on sensitive or confidential records. Opening up access to public records must be balanced by a legal requirement to protect sensitive, personal and confidential information under the Data Protection Act. Although this means that some of the records will be closed to public access, once all cataloguing and conservation work is complete there will still be an abundance of papers ready for further research and posterity. As well as a unique insight into the way in which LHB developed strategy and campaigns to tackle the spread of HIV/AIDS in Lothian, the papers of Helen Zealley will expand exploration into other areas of public health that LHB was responsible for. This includes papers relating to the developments of health promotion in education and medical specialisms, such as sexual health, non-smoking policy and environmental health.  The collection also provides us with an overview of strategic planning and policy making at LHB, particularly at a time of financial crisis in the early 1990s and the implementation of cost-cutting measures.

I look forward to completing cataloguing GD25 and keeping you up-to-date with the rest of the project! 



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