Highfields Community Centre remains an integral aspect of the tangible cultural heritage of Leicester. For more than 40 years, the Centre has fought for the civil rights of new immigrants and other groups of people, welcoming thousands of newcomers each year to the city. The Centre’s long existence has enabled it to witness the migration of new groups in and out of the city. This suggests that the Centre has interacted with various groups of people, making it a cultural hub for the city.
I chose to carry out my work placement with Highfields due to its cultural significance to Leicester. I worked as a digital archivist for 8 weeks where I was responsible for creating and curating an archival project that would form the basis of a bigger project titled ‘Highfields, the last 50 years!’. This is a digital interactive project which aims to bring together and make available online the historical, political, and economic struggles the community centre has faced to effect positive change within the city.
As a digital archivist, I converted all the organization's non-digital or analogue materials (photographs, articles, journals, and newspaper cuttings) into digital formats. I also converted all of the organization’s Digital Video Discs (DVDs) to web-friendly formats such as WebM and mp4 and edited them when necessary. I knew I lacked experience in archiving hence I became intentional about learning on the job quickly since completing my duties would form the basis of the bigger project. I then psyched myself up to become consistent in categorizing and describing the files I worked on. I also had to quickly decide on the unique and concise naming format to adopt during the categorization phase of the project since I was working within a limited time frame.
By the eighth week of my work placement, I had a complete archival database for the organization. This consisted of photographs, articles, journals, and newspaper clippings. My work placement at Highfields Community Centre provided me with the opportunity to improve my technical skills in photography and editing. Thanks to this placement I am also now aware of my skill to learn on a job quickly to achieve the intended results. My time at the centre also taught me that receiving postgraduate training at the School of Museum Studies does not limit you to only working in a museum but provides you with transferrable knowledge and skills which can be applied in a range of settings.
Jonas Essah Darko
MA. Museum Studies.