A 31-year-old folk arts scholar has been awarded the Bruynzeel CILIP Bursary 2017 to attend this year’s CILIP Rare Books and Special Collections Group Conference in Brighton.

Genevieve Adeline, who specialised in folk arts as part of her masters at the Open University, returned to her chosen career in 2015 after completing her studies. She is currently Knowledge Services Coordinator at the Chartered Insurance Institute.

“I am pleased to have been awarded the Bruynzeel bursary,” she said. “It’s a great opportunity for me at this stage in my career and I am really looking forward to the conference.”

Genevieve’s interest in libraries began during her undergraduate studies at Royal Holloway University. “I’ve always had a love of history and historical literature, and spent a lot of time visiting museums and galleries. However, my studies came to a premature end at Royal Holloway, as I was the only person on my course! I ended up transferring to the Open University.”

Genevieve continued her higher education at the Open University, ending up combining a masters degree with work as a nanny. “I preferred studying at the Open University. I’m more of an autodidact, and the OU system allows you to work at your own pace. Also I could combine study much more easily with paid work as a nanny, fitting in my studies around down time.”

Volunteering at English Folk Dance and Song Society
Her studies led initially to a volunteering post at the English Folk Dance and Song Society in Camden, where she was involved in a large-scale project to digitise the Society’s material, specifically the scanning and rehousing of photographs. “I studied folk stories and folk songs for my MA, so volunteering at the Vaughan Williams Memorial Library was a perfect move for me,” she said. “I had spent a lot of my masters degree looking at original material and that got me interested in rare books and special collections. The Society has a fantastic library and archive to explore.”

The CII: blend of business library and object archive
After less than a year Genevieve moved to a full-time paid post with her current employers, the Chartered Insurance Institute (CII) in the City of London, where she works in the CII’s library – and with the CII’s collection of archive and museum material.

“It’s a very odd combination of business library and object archive,” she said. “The library is accessed mainly by individuals from the world of insurance who are studying for qualifications. Alongside, there is all this archive material about the history of insurance. Lloyds of London gave us a lot of their material, and we also hold historical material donated by a large number of smaller insurance companies from around the globe. We have one of the largest collections of fire marks in the world. Historically these were plaques placed on the front of buildings to identify which company insured which property, before the advent of public fire brigades.”

Collections at risk
Genevieve’s career interest is to work more closely with special collections in future. In the meantime, the focus of this year’s RBSCG Conference – ‘Collections at Risk’ – meshes well with her current concerns. “At the CII, we are very much in the position that we will have to dispose of some of our collection in the near future, because of an impending move to a new building. I have a very basic understanding of best practice, so learning from other larger organisations how they have approached disposal will help me a lot – especially how a collection can survive as a useful, accessible resource after disposal. I am sure I will come back from Conference better informed and prepared.”

“With reductions in public funding, smaller collections are having problems staying afloat,” she added. “Mitigating risk and the effects of disposal will become more and more relevant for a large number of collections.”

Genevieve will be blogging for Bruynzeel from the CILIP Rare Books and Special Collections Group Conference, which takes place in Brighton from 6-8 September 2017.

Booking for the conference is open until 18 August. For more information and to book, visit the Rare Books and Special Collections Group Conference 2017.