‘Remotely Digital’ – New ways of volunteering at Barnsley Archives

Remotely Digital is Barnsley Museums first full-scale online volunteer offer, drawing on Barnsley Archives, ‘Film and Sound’ collection as inspiration, the project is offering volunteers the opportunity to volunteer remotely from their own homes to make this collection as fully accessible as possible.

With thanks to funding from the National Lottery Heritage Fund as part of their Digital Volunteering funding stream, the project is aiming to make fully accessible the many oral histories, films and other recordings we have in storage. This project has given us the opportunity to fund the conversion of material that has been donated in recent years, as well as material that might be donated during the course of the project. Volunteers though are at the heart of this work and we have offered training in how to transcribe, insights into archive working and behind the scenes and the chance to show what they have found by creating content.

Finally the funding has enabled us to fund a project support officer, who has been driving the work forward and supporting volunteers.

“It has been really enjoyable working with the volunteers especially the catch up sessions I have with them be it online or emails, enabling me to further understand and support each volunteer. The volunteers have given us lots of valuable ideas and thoughts helping to shape the project and progress forward. It is also amazing how widespread our volunteers are – we even have someone volunteering in America!” (Sheauran Tan, September 2022)

What do our volunteers think?

Beth’s at home volunteering workspace.

Hello, my name is Beth and I am currently volunteering on the Remotely Digital Archives Project with Barnsley Museums. This online volunteering project aims to make Barnsley’s sound and film archive collections more accessible.

Earlier this year, I started volunteering for Barnsley Museums to gain more experience whilst I’m looking for full-time employment opportunities. I am a Master’s graduate from the University of Leeds and since October 2020, I have spent most of the time looking for work so I can transfer the skills I obtained from my academic studies.

For me, digital volunteering was a great opportunity to further develop some IT skills, particularly with uploading snippets of sound recordings and film clips on social media. So far, this opportunity has allowed me to expand on my transcribing skills with a sound recording, as well as download and use new software to my full advantage.

So far, it has been going really well. At the start, I was a bit slow in transcribing a 40-minute interview recorded in 2018 but as I put more time into transcribing the recording I started making progress. This interview is with Mary Jones, and it has been packed with really interesting snippets into her life.

During my transcription training session, I was introduced to Express Scribe, which is software I can use to transcribe the sound recording. After that session, I downloaded the software and did a two-week free trial. It has been a helpful tool for transcribing the recording because I can listen to it at any speed I like.

One thing I would like to share is as of 21st September 2022, I have transcribed over 12 minutes of the interview. And within those 12 minutes, I’ve already been lucky to hear so many aspects of the life of Mary Jones that I would need to go into more detail about them in another blog.

In summary, Remotely Digital has been a fascinating project to work on because the more work I’ve done, the more interesting it has become. I highly recommend that you join online volunteering projects like this.

Our volunteer Ruth talking about why she has chosen to work on the Remotely Digital archives project:

What else do our volunteers say about being involved?

“It’s so interesting. I think I’m going to enjoy it. Different way to see and learn what is in the archives.” – Volunteer Feedback

‘Thank you for the experience. I’m excited to get started and learn more about Barnsley’s history.’ – Volunteer Feedback

‘I hope to be able to learn more about Barnsley’s rich history, it’s digital archives and I hope to be able to contribute to making them more accessible so that they can be enjoyed by everyone for years to come.’ – Volunteer Feedback

‘I am hoping to get experience in the field of archiving and the historical field in general. I am also hoping to learn new skills and improve the ones I already have.’ – Volunteer Feedback

Think you might be interested?

While the project is well underway, we see this as something that will become part of our regular volunteer offer, there is still plenty to go out and new opportunities for the future. Follow Barnsley Archives on Facebook and Twitter as we will be making more film and sound collections available in the near future! For all volunteer enquiries contact museumvolunteering@barnsley.gov.uk or speak to us when you next visit.

We have also created a 360 interactive virtual tour of the Archives search room which had links to further information about the service as well as blogs, podcasts and sound clips

Explore The Discovery Centre from the comfort of your own home https://my.matterport.com/show/?m=ju4s96wzNT5

Have you read our recent blogs?


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