Get to know your new Head of Special Collections - Nicky Sugar!
We had a chat with Nicky Sugar, the new Head of Special Collections, to get an insight into what she has been up to, why archives are an amazing resource and what exciting things are coming up for the department.
What did you previously do before becoming Head of Special Collections?
For the past 8 years I looked after the British Empire & Commonwealth Collection at Bristol Archives. It was a huge privilege to work with people and collections from across the world as well as with communities here in Bristol, and I could never have left that job if I hadn’t thought I was coming to something even more amazing!
Which of the university's collections are you most interested in? And do you have any favourite items yet?
I’m always keen to look at how the collections can help us make connections with people, that’s what I love about the job. So with that in mind I’d have to say I love the Wildfilm Archive, because I believe it has real potential to inspire responses to the ecological crisis if we can engage people with it in creative ways. The Feminist Archive is also incredible for the light it sheds on some hidden histories. Finally, I also get a real wave of nostalgia from the Penguin Archive, because it contains some of the books we had in the house when I was growing up!
Why should students be interested in using our archives and how best can they access our collections?
The best thing about using archives and rare books for essays and dissertations is that you literally have the chance to write about something no-one else has ever written about before! And these resources are right here in Bristol! People often assume our collections will only be of interest to people studying things like History or English, but we pretty much have something for everyone – we have amazing geological, medical and musical collections for example.
The best place to start is our Special Collections webpage, where you can read about the collections, search our catalogue and contact us to order material to look at. On our website we also have our drop in times. We’re based on the 1st floor of Arts and Social Sciences Library and you’re always welcome to drop by to talk to our friendly team in person!
What exciting things are on the horizon at the moment for you and your team?
We’re working with our library colleagues to raise our profile a bit more, via social media and having a physical presence at events, so we’ll be extending that in the new academic year. We’ve also got a really exciting project starting around the papers of the Pinney family, who lived at the Georgian House. With this project we’re hoping to do more to centre the enslaved Africans mentioned in the collection and understand more about how their stories can be told.