Emma Penman

Published Wednesday, 9th May 2018 in Staff news

Emma penman profile

Job title: Library Assistant. Location: Oatridge campus

What does your role at SRUC involve?

My day to day involves manning the circulation desk, dealing with student enquiries, cataloguing, processing orders and new stock.  However, since my background is in archives, at the moment my main project is establishing an SRUC Archive, which will be housed at the Elmwood campus.

Over the past two years a small team have been working to establish an archive service for SRUC.  We’ve been working to promote and raise awareness for the need to preserve SRUC’s history, while carrying out basic preservation work and re-packaging the archives in appropriate enclosures to ensure that they are preserved for the future. 

Our records date all the way back from 1806 through to present day, and many of them are in very poor condition. Without taking action many of the records could be destroyed or be damaged over time due to incorrect storage, management or just neglect.

We’ve found a huge array of items across SRUC’s campuses - including minute books, photographs and slides, maps and plans, correspondence, class lists, old exam papers and research papers.

Why is your role important to SRUC?

My knowledge of archives has helped to ensure that our historical materials will survive - they require specialist care as many items were damaged due to improper storage and handling over the years.

The records document the changes in agriculture and rural life in Scotland since the 1890’s - if the archives were destroyed there would be no record of our history. There is no other archive in Scotland dedicated to agricultural history and with such comprehensive records of the past century.

What have you enjoyed most about working at SRUC?

I completed my PGDip in Archives and Records Management in 2016, so I’ve really enjoyed having the opportunity to put my skills and knowledge into practice. The archive project has been very exciting as we’ve been able to start the service from scratch which I’m sure not many people get the chance to do. It has been really interesting to uncover valuable materials knowing that I may have been the first person to see them in a century.

What have been your highlights of working at SRUC?

The archive project has allowed me to visit the other campuses to work on our collections – in March we moved materials from the Ayrshire archives up to Elmwood, but we also hold large collections in Edinburgh and Aberdeen.  This travel has been great as it’s helped me get to know my lovely colleagues better!

My favourite part is being able to read the old letters and notebooks and gaining a better understanding of the experience of former staff and students over the past century+.

What’s on your schedule for the next six months?

Cataloguing our collections and getting our catalogue live on the website so that staff and the public are able to search and access our collections.  I’m working on creating training materials for staff on how to use the archives as well as creating policies and procedures which are required to ensure that we provide a professional service. 

If any members of staff have any items to donate or any stories to share about archive items we’d love to have them! Get in contact with Emma to find out more.

What do you enjoy doing when you aren’t at work?

I enjoy reading, painting, going to gigs and travelling when I can. I also teach English online to Chinese children when I’m not working at SRUC.


We’re looking for staff to speak to us about their role for future staff profiles – it provides you the chance to share your successes and highlights, while showing other staff the variety of work undertaken within the organisation. Get in contact via communications@sruc.ac.uk if you would like to be featured, or if you would like to nominate a colleague to be included next month.

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