When quietude becomes noisy

I was fortunate to be offered two Deakin internships this summer, and grateful that I was allowed to accept both. It was a summer of contrasts. One of the internships was at Deakin Motion Lab, an innovative technology-driven creative hub, to be detailed in a separate post. The other was at the Alfred Deakin Prime Ministerial Library Special Collections, where I got to sit in a gallery space. Along one side of the large room it was floor to ceiling of old books. Archival items such as large botanical plates were dotted about in custom cases and shelving units. Opposite the books shelves was a wall of glass, watermarked with an image of Alfred Deakin and automatic glass sliding doors.

Quietude, one of my favorite words, a coveted place, comes to mind, but actually historical research is noisy – once you are sucked into the vortex of the task – being alone in a quiet space is not the experience at all. It’s fun, it’s lively, – people and places become animated demanding and competing for your attention.

The ADPML, according to Liz Horn a librarian at Deakin, ‘provides high quality research facilities for scholars attached to the Alfred Deakin Research Institute, other Deakin University staff, students and the wider community, including a publically accessible reference collection containing materials on Australian social and political history and family history.’ The ADPML is the access point for Deakin University Library’s collection of over 70,000 rare books and special materials. Deakin Fusion is an online space for ADPML to exhibit digitalised collections and that was where my internship was focused.

My role was to research, write, design, and publish exhibits. Omeka is a little like WordPress but designed specifically for libraries and museums to exhibit collections, and is more reliant on html code. This was my first foray into html code (luckily there were already eight exhibits online so I did a lot of copying and pasting) which I found quite fun (I am a bit weird). During my internship I published three exhibits; ‘William Clarson and The Kitchen Garden – a life of note and notoriety,’ and ‘The purveyors of floral sensations,’ and lastly A plant for every purpose, a champion for every plant.’

I got to choose what digitalised items I wrote an exhibit for and next week I will begin a regular one-day per week role at ADPML, so I’m looking forward to choosing another. The biggest challenge will be restricting word count – there’s just so much content waiting to be uncovered and collated. The first two were 1500 words but poor old William Clarson blew out to 4000. There really is a book there…