Research opportunities foster student aspirations

Megan Butchart

Undergraduate student Megan Butchart has been working in archival research on campus and in the community

Megan Butchart had the opportunity to work at the Kelowna Museums as a summer student two years in a row, working with physical artifacts and the archives. She found out about this opportunity from one of her History Professors, Dr. James Hull, and this has fueled her passion about the possibility of a career working in the archives.

In the first semester of her studies, Megan was excited about the intersections between History and English that she discovered in her classes, prompting her to pursue her Bachelor of Arts degree with an English and History double major. Finding many parallels between the two subjects and discovering how historical contexts complement and enhance the works studied in English literature, Megan sees this as the perfect lead in to further her studies and career in literary archives.

The tight knit community on this campus has been an important part of Megan’s time during her degree.

“Because of the small class sizes you really get to know others in your disciplines and create lasting friendships. I have also had the opportunity to work closely with some of my professors who have been wonderful mentors and who have helped me find out about amazing opportunities offered at UBCO.”

Now in the fourth year of her degree, Megan has been working closely with Dr. Karis Shearer in The AMP Lab at UBCO on the SSRHC-funded project, SpokenWeb. This project is working towards digitizing and making accessible a collection of literary audio recordings on magnetic tape and cassette which are deteriorating in their analogue formats and would otherwise not be available for us to learn from.

“In some cases we have the only known copies of specific readings, lectures, and interviews, and it is therefore important to preserve that history for people to listen to and learn from, so we do not lose what came before,” says Megan. “It is exciting to work with this collection of literary audio recordings from the 1960s to the 1980s as they really reflect the poetry community of UBC Vancouver at that time.”

She is working on assessing the collection, developing metadata, and cataloguing, as well as transcribing and researching specific tapes within the collection.

Megan credits Dr. Karis Shearer with fostering her interest in poetry and as being a great influence on her being able to work with the team in the lab, work that is directly related to working towards her future aspirations. With Megan’s interest in conservation and preservation, this project is perfect to set her up for a career in the heritage sector.

“It is exciting to work on something big, to work towards a larger goal within my studies. I’m fortunate to have had these opportunities to get involved in different aspects of academia on campus and in the community.’

Megan is planning on working towards a master’s degree in archival studies after completing her BA at UBC Okanagan. She notes that she has had some amazing experiences here during her degree that will lead her further working in an archival field.

Leave a Reply