Alison Fernie

Alison Fernie

When I was young it was apparent I liked to organise! A good spring clean was something I enjoyed, and at one point I think I even introduced coloured labels to my cupboards to help me find things. That probably isn't something I should admit to...however, these are the traits that led me into the glamorous world of records management.

My first job was an office junior, which was my introduction to filing. Without knowing it I was already beginning to be a records manager; making sure things were 'findable', in the order they were received and ensuring that the file was kept for the required period of time. It wasn't until I started working with a consultant records manager that I realised I could make a career out of my organisation skills. I completed my masters in information management and preservation at the University of Glasgow and got a job implementing a document-management solution to store scanned records for a public authority. The organisation was relocating to a smaller building, which didn't have the space to store their physical records. When I saw the advert for a records manager at the BGS, to facilitate relocating their Edinburgh office, I thought it was perfect for me.

The relocation involved making difficult decisions to dispose of or relocate some collections, and the BGS provided me with both the authority and support to make those decisions. Although the relocation was a two and a half year project, and took up a lot of time, I was encouraged to get involved in other projects, either using the work involved in the relocation to influence another project, or working with digital data, which provided variety. The relocation project was based on appraising collections and making them discoverable: some collections were scanned and then disposed of where suitable, to reduce the space requirement for our analogue records, and other collections were kept and relocated to the new building.

The relocation was a huge success and provided much professional satisfaction. I am now part of a team continuing to develop our ingestion systems with a focus on digital data. We have built a toolkit to deal with any data coming into the BGS so that we can make it discoverable and accessible within a short timescale, and I'm looking forward to marketing the toolkit and our services to other organisations. Every organisation has a cupboard in need of sorting out: the BGS has a particularly fascinating and eclectic one which I get to play with every day.

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For more information about Ali, please see her staff profile.

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