Reflecting on my time at the Archive, I feel so fortunate to have even been given an interview, let alone an internship as a library intern. At the start of this internship, I hadn’t a clue about anything regarding mills, and to be honest I didn’t really want to know. However, through working at the Trust I have learned so much about mills and milling, opening my eyes to both their importance and just how interesting mills can be. All of the books we have here (as I have explained through various blogs) have some sort of connection to mills and milling (however small or large). This makes our library so diverse in content as we have so many differing books, which are all grouped under this broad brush which constitutes the milling library. The variation of book content makes the library such a rich area for research, which I feel more people should know about! The library is the true ‘Gem of the Archive’ in my opinion, you just need to explore it to find out!
Another beauty of the Mills Archive Trust is the fact that (surprise) it’s a milling archive. Many of you might think that’s a redundant point, but hear me out. I have been working almost primarily on the library, and the beauty of the mill library, is that you can read about say “Brixton Windmill”, and then be able to look at archive material pertaining to the windmill itself. This is the uniqueness of the Trust’s library, which very few other libraries have: it works in tandem with our collection of archival material to give as immersive an experience as possible into the world of milling for people who are visiting. Very few other centres offer this level of depth for researchers, making the Mills Archive so unique and such a rich centre for research.
That’s all the talking I’ll do about how wonderful the archive is for now, as if I were to continue, I’d be here all day! So, let’s talk about what I have achieved since starting this internship in June. Well, other than becoming a world famous blogger, I have achieved what was asked of me: I have sorted the online library catalogue to ensure it’s ready for its data to be transferred onto a new system in the near future. I have categorised over 4000 books since starting in June. This is an average of more than 88 books a day, which I think is not too shabby! I was also involved in a reshape of the categorising system, suggesting new categories (which will be called “topics”) that could be added to be able to best describe the variety of books which we have in the library. I was also involved in removing ‘corporate authors’ in which we deleted over 400 corporate entities as authors, making the system easier to navigate.
So, I’ve been busy, to say the least! And of course I have done a good number of other things whilst I have been at the Archive, but none I am more proud of than the evolution of my blog from a satirical piece to a more focused, academic approach to the work I was encountering on a daily basis. My first few blogs, whilst perhaps interesting, didn’t really reflect what I found interesting about working at the archive. So Ron had advised me (as a historian) to take an academic approach and look at different aspects of my work (like the social and public history pieces I was cataloguing) and talk about them in a blog. So, I took on that advice and I haven’t looked back. Writing the blogs has been one of my favourite aspects about working here, and I’m so glad that some of you have enjoyed it too!
I have also thoroughly enjoyed working with everyone at the Archive. Since day one, everyone has made me feel extremely welcome and have been a joy to work with. Honestly, in my time here, every single member of staff and each volunteer has come in and made my day just that little bit brighter, so thank you to you all. The experience of working at the Archive wouldn’t have been the same without you all and it’s an experience I’ll never forget!
I have also thoroughly enjoyed my work environment too! This summer has been very changeable to say the least, not deciding whether it wants to be the Sahara or Scotland. Despite this, I have still made the most out of the extremely beautiful garden at Watlington House. I have managed to top up my tan come rain or shine, and have enjoyed every single break I’ve had in that garden. The House is the perfect work environment and I will miss it when I’m gone! But not as much as the wonderful people involved with the Mills Archive Trust!
So what will the world famous Lewin be doing next? Well, I’m off on holiday soon to sunny Italy (Ryanair willing) and after that I will be back in Reading to finish my last year of University! After that I hope to be able to get into heritage - preferably engaging with the public - to get them interested in history, showcasing to them just how valuable our past truly is. But for this, you need experience in the industry, and this is why I am so grateful to the Mills Archive Trust. It has given me invaluable experience in a field in which I want to pursue a career - and I can only thank Ron and Liz for giving me that first opportunity.
So that’s all from your weekly dose of Lewin. It’s been a joy to work here, and it’s been a joy to write for you each week. If the next intern is reading this in a year’s time, then my advice to you is to just throw yourself into whatever you’re doing. You've got the most lovely, supportive people around you helping you out, so don’t be afraid to do things differently. Most importantly though, my advice to you would be to enjoy yourself, because the time flies and before you know it your internship will be over! So that’s all from me, and it’s the end of this weekly blog series! Thank you all very much for reading each week, it’s been a pleasure!