Elisabeth Bennett, Archivist at Swansea University, has worked for the organisation since 1993. In that time she has gone from a one person, limited service, to a nationally accredited facility with a professional team, improved storage conditions and increased access for all.
Elisabeth has assembled staff from different backgrounds, recognising that individual strengths make a team. Elisabeth is an inspiring woman for many reasons, her encouragement in gaining qualifications keeps us moving forward, and her respect for our ideas keeps us motivated. Elisabeth draws on her experience, balancing a career with bringing up three children, to provide pastoral care as a manager.
Elisabeth has played a major role in achieving a state-of-the-art home for the Richard Burton Archive, opened in 2009, within Information Services and Systems and manages a team who are dynamic and committed to their roles, in large part down to Elisabeth’s management and leadership.
In 2014 the Richard Burton Archive became the first university archive in the UK to attain Archives Service Accreditation Elisabeth was invited to speak at the Houses of Parliament.
Recently the Archive has played an important part in the ‘Wales: Showing our metal’ project working in collaboration with other Archive collections across Wales, ‘to promote the use of archives and awareness of the history of the steel industry in Wales.
Elisabeth has led on these successes whilst also collaborating with academic colleagues to encourage and increase use of the archive collection by Swansea University students.
Importantly however the Archives are open to all and visits by appointment allow the team to prepare in advance to ensure users receive the best service possible.
Elisabeth actively looks for ways to promote archives to new audiences; recently co-creating a ‘highly commended’ winner in the 2015 Research as Art competition. She continually works to develop the collections, with the Archives now recognised as a significant research facility featuring figures such as Dylan Thomas, Raymond Williams and Amy Dillwyn.
She has been consulted by archives and academics internationally, and is a member (former chair) of Archives and Records Council Wales and works with MALD (Museums, Archives and Libraries Division, Welsh Government) on collaborative projects. She sits on the Public Engagement Panel of the ‘Disability and Industrial Society, 1780-1948’ project, providing expertise on how archives offer insights into the understanding of disability.
Elisabeth is passionate about her role and works diligently to improve and develop the archive; often in the background and without seeking acknowledgement. She is an inspiring figure in the world of Libraries and Archives and a strong, successful female leader in an otherwise male dominated organisation. Through hard work, a proactive approach and sheer determination she has built an outstanding archive resource of which the University and Wales can justifiably be proud.