07 June 2014

Go to the museum (and apply for scholarships) as often as you can

In 2004 I went to a number of libraries and archives in the UK and Europe to discuss national programs for digitisation. I was working at the National Library of New Zealand and had successfully applied in 2003 for a Nora Bateson Scholarship from the School of Information Management at Victoria University of Wellington, where I had completed my MLIS. This scholarship enabled a newly-qualified practitioner to undertake study overseas.

The whole process of applying for the scholarship, undertaking the study and disseminating my findings was a great experience and one that I would encourage new graduates from VUW to look into. And if like me you are well past the new grad stage of your career, there are other scholarship and fellowship opportunities out there waiting for your application. Pulling a study tour together (including a budget) and writing the proposal was quite time-consuming, but great practice for the many other types of applications I've had to do since then. Part of the scholarship involved presenting the results of the study tour through a conference paper at Te Wero, the LIANZA 2005 conference: Establishing and sustaining national digitisation programmes: lessons for New Zealand from the Netherlands, Scotland and Wales. I'm not 100% sure but I think this might have been the first time I presented at a library conference.

My program of study also included a digital preservation conference in Amsterdam, one of my favourite cities. I took a little time out after the conference to visit the Van Gogh Museum. The approach to the museum had a beautiful water feature and an artwork with the message 'go to the museum as often as you can' in different languages. A good piece of life advice! Along with 'apply for as many things as you can'; if I hadn't made the effort to apply for this scholarship I would have missed out on a wonderful professional and personal experience.

Water feature and art work at the Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam