Friday, 17 April 2015

Welcome to Iain

This week Iain Phillips introduces himself and talks about his work  on LHSA's HIV/AIDS collections in the first seven weeks of his part-time 24-week placement, funded by an award from the John Lewis Golden Jubilee Trust:

A fast first day
I started on Tuesday 3rd March 2015 with a brief introduction and then was set straight to work!
My supervisor, Louise, made sure I received my induction to the Centre for Research Collections (CRC). She then introduced me to Emily Hick, who has spent her time working both with LHSA (on HIV/AIDS collections) and CRC as a conservator. I was helping Emily on a Wellcome Trust Provision for Public Engagement Project to create educational resources for teachers based on LHSA's HIV/AIDS collections, on which she'd recently finished conservation work ( I was asked to help create four resources out of the 15 which will showcase the material available in LHSA's HIV/AIDS collections and suggest exercises based around the Curriculum for Excellence. Considering I had only seen what was in the collections by looking at the LHSA website ( I was excited to find out more about what we had to help me create these resources.

I’ve rushed ahead and not introduced myself yet. I’ll tell you how I got to be here every Tuesday and Wednesday.

Iain at his desk with items from LHSA's Take Care collection (GD22)

My time with LHSA

I first started working with LHSA over a year ago, volunteering on my days off work cataloguing the case notes of Professor Norman Dott. His pioneering leadership in the field of neurosurgery makes these notes an important record of the changes in diagnosis and treatment of neurological disorders.
Whilst at the archive, I noticed the HIV/AIDS collections through the work Karyn Williamson was doing to catalogue some of the remaining collections and Emily’s blog on the work she did to conserve atypical materials for an archive ( This inspired me to find out more.

My day job at John Lewis and the Golden Jubilee Trust (GJT)

I have been a John Lewis Partner (our name for employee) for 10 years. I started there whilst studying biological sciences at Edinburgh University. I have worked in different departments in the store and now currently work in the Gift List department. Each day is different. Alongside Gift List customers we also gift wrap items purchased in store, process price match queries and many other roles that would take too long to list here.
However, I was looking to do something slightly different with some of my time and considered the GJT. The John Lewis Golden Jubilee Trust funds placements for Partners for a volunteering secondment with a UK registered charity for up to six months. After sending an application to the GJT Board for consideration I was one of the lucky 27 Partners to get a secondment (

Creating resources for schools and community groups

Karyn originally came up with the idea for these resources when she was cataloguing four of the HIV/AIDS collections. So after a meeting with her and Emily I was primed to dig deeper in the resources, based on items from the Take Care campaign such as the board game ‘Choices’ and pin badges.

A Take Care promotional pin badge (GD22)

I also was able to adapt a public engagement activity Louise had previously done with primary school children to provide a resource for teachers to discuss what archiving is and get their pupils to be archivists in a short activity. All 15 resources will be loaded onto the website which will launch in May.
200 copies of the ‘Choices’ board game were distributed to schools, youth clubs, community education centres and residential settings for young people (GD22).

I also have been learning new skills. I transcribed some radio advertisements used during the Take Care and Forth Action campaigns. These were short, humorous, clips encouraging the use of condoms and dissuading the sharing of needles. At some times it was hard not to break out into laugher in the office, and disrupt the normally quiet space! These will also be loaded onto the website so you’ll be able to listen to them. I challenge you to get through all of them without a hint of a chuckle.

I have been warmly welcomed into the team and I have already been able to achieve a lot in the short time I have been here. I look forward to the next few weeks where I’ll be continuing on the start I’ve already made on taking oral histories for the HIV/AIDS collections.

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