How does it feel to be an intern at the National Library of Scotland?

Thinking about conservation volunteering in Scotland? Find out what it’s like to volunteer at the National Library in Scotland in this article by Marie Renaudin, conservation student from Lyon, France… 

It was kind of hard to find a proper title to this article, I have to admit. How to strike people when you just want to tell everyone how fortunate you are to be an intern in book and paper conservation at the NLS? (Well no, they did not pay me to say that…). As the end is coming soon now, I was lucky to be asked to write a little something on the ICON blog about my impression. The story begins 5 years ago, on my first year of BA in conservation-restoration in Lyon (France), the time when I applied to do a three-month internship at the NLS. I wanted so much to be able to work with this place of great treasures one day that I decided to apply at the very beginning of my studies. As you can imagine, great place cannot stay secret for long, and unfortunately there was no space within 4 years. As my motivation was stronger than ever I have asked if I could be offered my candidature 4 years in advance – that is something we normally don’t do, and with a happy surprise they agreed!

Tear mending in the Ms.3.1.12, National Library of Scotland

Tear mending in the Ms.3.1.12, National Library of Scotland

4 years later which means this month of May, I was able to finally realize one of my biggest expectations. For more than eight weeks I have been entrusted with lots of treasure such as manuscripts of the 13th century made of parchment and illuminations, but also with a wild range of different projects dealing with different problems (18th century journals, 20th century miner archives, exhibition, the parchment samples analysis, watermarks studies, etc.) which have made my stay within the team a memorable experience, where I have the chance to learn the most and to exchange with impressive professionals.

It was very important for me to tell you how extraordinary well I felt with them. I hope it will not be too inappropriate but just for once, I thought it would be great to say that what makes your stay enjoyable beside the fact that you work everyday with what you love the most to do, is people who are surrounding you. Not only the members of the team are talented professionals entirely dedicated to their work and struggling to find always a way to make things right, but there are most of all warm people who are doing everything they can do to make you feel always comfortable, part of a team, as if you were really one of them whereas you are just an intern. I will never find a way to thank them enough for all their help, for sharing so much and entrusting me with awesome projects and for what has been one of the best experiences of my life.


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