A 27-year-old Brighton archivist and librarian has been awarded the Bruynzeel CILIP Bursary 2015 to attend this year’s CILIP Rare Books and Special Collections Group Conference in London.

Joanna Baines graduated from Sussex University in 2009 with a first class honours degree in English and History, and has since worked for the University library’s lending services and collections development departments, and its special collections archive based at The Keep.

“I am very excited to have been awarded the Bruynzeel bursary,” she said. “The CILIP Rare Books and Special Collections Group Conference always has a very interesting programme.

“I’ve been wanting to go for years and now I finally have the opportunity, thanks to this bursary.”

Joanna’s interest in rare books and special collections developed from her undergraduate studies in English Literature: “I was studying early modern period Shakespeare, and I was looking for ways to keep that interest going. Becoming involved in rare books fitted well with with my subject, offering a historical/literary crossover that works really well.”

A turning point was her semester placement at US liberal arts college Mount Holyoke, in Massachusetts. Founded in 1837, Mount Holyoke remains an all female college and is the oldest continuing institution of its kind in the US.

“As part of my degree, Sussex offers the opportunity for students to study abroad. I decided that the East Coast of the US was where I wanted to be. We had links to this tiny all women’s college: Holyoke. Going there was the best decision I ever made. Their archive and special collections are fabulous. It has a competitive, Oxfordish vibe. The highlight for me was the importance it placed on women’s education. The college offers an environment out of the bounds of normal society, where you have the freedom to develop your leadership, build up your skills and confidence. It’s a really special place.”

Combining library services and special collections
Joanna’s plans for the immediate future include studying for an MA in Information and Library Studies. She is keen to use the bursary to develop ideas for her MA dissertation, stimulated by her attendance at the RBSCG Conference in September.

Joanna will be blogging for Bruynzeel from the CILIP Rare Books and Special Collections Group Conference, which takes place across three London locations from 2-4 September 2015.