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Guy Taylor – Library and Archives
What I do
I volunteer in the Museum’s archives and library, working on cataloguing various parts of the collection, in order to make them more accessible for research. We also help staff at the Archive Viewing Sessions at the Museum, so we do also get to meet the public occasionally.
What I love
One of the benefits of working behind the scenes is the privileged access one has to some of the ‘treasures’ – I recently had the chance to examine a secret sketchbook that had been made to record the ‘Great Escape’ from StalagLuft VII. One really fun aspect of the work is that you never know what you are going to find inside a file, envelope or album and then occasionally you stumble on something that is significant. I call these ‘Forrest Gump moments’, because “you never know what you’re going to get.” They’re not frequent but equally not impossibly rare.
What I get
I also volunteer as part of a Battlefields Trust group working on a project connected with the First Blitz – the Zeppelin and subsequent Gotha bomber raids on Britain during the First World War. Some of the personnel whose records I’ve been trawling through for the RAF Museum were, at some point, employed on Home Defence duties so their records have been very useful in my research for the First Blitz project. As a ‘Cold War warrior’ I used to be very familiar with Warsaw Pact equipment; now I’m finding my First World War recognition skills are improving rapidly.
The paid staff in the Archive and Library Team are very friendly and helpful, and treat me and the other volunteers as integral members of the team. It is clear that our efforts are regarded as valued contributions to the department’s overall activities.