Commandant Padraic Kennedy currently holds the appointment of the Officer in Charge of the Military Archives. He has completed a Masters in Management of Operations from DCU and more recently graduated in 2012 from UCD with a Masters in Archives and Records Management. The Military Archives is the official place of deposit for the Defence Forces, the Department of Defence and the Army Pensions Board. The Military Archives is based in Cathal Brugha Barracks in Rathmines, Dublin 6 with their websites available at www.militaryarchives.ie and www.bureauofmiitaryhistory.ie
Having read some of the previous posts, I can certainly empathise with many of the concerns of an individual entering an entirely new professional field. While I can only speak from the point of view of the Masters programme in Archives & Records Management in UCD, the challenges of managing information and cross pollination of fields of libraries, museums and archives is served well by the various courses available for information professionals. While impartiality is a key requirement of an archivist, I can highly recommend the Archives and Records Management in equipping a student to meet the initial challenges of a new professional whilst also thoroughly enjoying the course.
I was in a fortunate position to have had the opportunity to retrain within my current employment in the Defence Forces and take up the position of the Officer in Charge of the Military Archives. The Defence organisation has been particularly cognisant of the role in acquiring and preserving some of the most valuable and seminal records of the state through the provision of professional Military and Civilian archivists and the necessary support staff. With this in mind, I was justifiable aware of the responsibility I would be given on completion of the course despite being a new graduate. I was however, very lucky to have the support of the Military Archives staff who continue to provide a level of dedication and expertise that the public can be proud of.
The Masters programme in UCD was filled with the right amount of academic, theoretical and practical projects to position any new graduate to manage the initial first steps in their new role. I found the course particularly relevant to the challenges of the modern archivist providing an exposure to the traditional skills required and also to the diverse nature of roles that will be familiar to many information professionals. The mix of project work provides the new archivist the opportunity to operate in both a group organisation and commonly as a sole professional trader.
The course was certainly a challenging one involving a significant workload which I believe developed a solid professional foundation from which we can continue to develop our trades. The workload of this Masters programme appeared to be significantly higher than most with half of our class having previously completed an alternate Masters programme. The variation in skills and academic backgrounds across multiple and diverse fields within the class (and within the profession) also provided an important exposure to a variety of views and discussion necessary for critical thinking. Despite what is only a short period of time since my graduation, I have had the opportunity to engage with a wide variety of information professionals which continues to help my own professional development. Access to the work of other professionals either through casual conversations, interviews or through reading case studies can provide a solid base upon which to develop your own projects and initiatives.
One of my first weeks in the role saw the launch of the website www.bureauofmilitaryhistory.ie (Aug 2012) which was a significant collaborative project with the National Archives. The online project encompassed images, audio and over 35,000 pages of witness statements from the revolutionary period of 1913-21 in a word searchable formats. The provision and transfer of such a significant collection online and the ongoing development of the Military Archives online presence remains a key facilitator of access and awareness both nationally and internationally. The regular comments online and e mails from individuals and lecturers nationally and from abroad serve as a reminder as to the ongoing success of our venture online and website, which remains relatively new having only commenced in late Dec 2011.
As a former Public Information Officer and Defence Forces internet project manager, I have applied my own previous experience to my new role within the Military Archives while also continually drawing on the skills, knowledge, advice and work of others who have worked within the Military Archives and on similar external projects. I look forward to engaging with the wide variety of individuals that operate within the broad title of information professionals who demonstrate a contagious enthusiasm to continue to improve their own skill set and the services they provide. The level of collaboration and desire for professional development is clearly apparent among the information professional sector which will greatly assist in meeting the challenges of archivists and informational professionals of which there are many.