The Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET)


Anne Locker - Archivist

The Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET) is a multidisciplinary professional engineering institution and has been in existence since 2006 when The Institution of Electrical Engineers (founded 1871) and The Institution of Incorporated Engineers (founded 1884) amalgamated to form the current body. It has a global membership which exceeds 168,000.

Anne Locker covers a wide range of subjects including the challenges faced in globalising an unusually varied archive. She describes the role the archive has played in the push for diversity and in highlighting the work of female engineers down the years. Anne explores some of the highlights from the collection, including Chaucer’s little-known ‘Treatise on the Astrolabe’ and his desire to make engineering texts available in English as opposed to Latin.

Please Note: This is an automated, machine-generated transcription. We have presented this 'as is' and have not undertaken any editing.

Welcome to the max communications 2020 podcast a series of podcast where we explore at various archives and collections. my name is Faith Williams and I'm joined today by Anne Locker Library and archive manager from the Institute of Engineering and Technology. Anne would you like to introduce yourself and tell us about how you came to be in your position. hi my name is Anne and I've been working at the IET in various capacity for over 20 years now a long time and I managed the library and the archive collections so I started off as an assistant archivist and really near the beginning of my career and carried on finding out more about the IET's collections and how we can make something accessible and open to researchers and to our members as well. so what type of material is in the collections and it's fantastic collections with unbiased and it's and we're designated as well and all of our collections are designated so the library be archived on our web of corruption and it's a is a great collection for the history of engineering and specifically the history of electrical engineering which is one of our one of our strengths but we it goes from early medieval manuscripts on engineering technology to modern electronic books and journals with pretty much everything in between including a huge range of archive material and their books so if you're interested in anything to do the history engineering technology we can probably find something to suit you. so since you have presumably a large amount of modern stuff - does it come in different formats do you have video and audio and stuff like that? for the modern material it's mostly things like ebooks and e-journals and so on but we are starting to collect more and more, as many archives are, more and more digital records and formats so things like audio-visual material but also kind of onboard digital documents as well and that's the best challenges one to try establish how best to look after those kind of Records and make sure have accessible for future. how do you spend an average day in your role then? ah yes it's very varied actually because we depends on on what's going on I'm basically on the way when were open of course we're not actually open at the moment you to do to the current situation but whether open done regularly on the library desk open to our members them and answering any questions that they have or working in the archives looking at various projects and to do with them apparently our past researchers answering inquiries and we're also doing all that kind of planning and and also managing our teams we've got a great team of people working in the librarian archive collections so there's some that actually eight above all together. Wow so who accesses the collection and what are they looking for it's really very so uh for a lovely collections it's mostly if messy members of the IEP for working engineers who are looking to a big beverage at knowledge but for the archive collections probably mostly not people who are members academic researchers but also people perhaps researching a family history and you might have had family members who are members of the IET or people looking at the history of engineering technology specifically those are people looking at facial history we've got some great collections including the archives of women's Engineering Society and the archives of the electrical association for women but actually really interested the social history because it shows how engineering a few had a had an influence on on our on our lives and then specifically on looking at the history of electricity in the home and how the electrification of all connected eyes have affected really how how we live and work today it sounds like an because obviously you you mentioned that there's modern engineers and things like that who access your collection would you say it's quite similar to maybe em the British Medical Association is it or the Royal Institution of architects would you say it's sort of a similar collection in that sense like subject matter wise Oh perhaps not deficit but I think in terms of scope me an institutional archives are already interesting because they tend to be really mixed and because rather than being a specific kind of material that was collected for a specific purpose it tends to be things that the institution who can gather together over the years are either through donations or acquisitions or from records that they've created themselves so this is why we've got actually not a massive collection with a really varied collection in terms of content and format so it probably would be similar to do vertical society collections that perhaps have a little bit of everything in from libraries of rare book collections archive collections modern collections and also big things like clocks and silverware and paintings and all those other things that tend to be part of institutional collections as well because the institution of Engineering and Technology has been a few things a few things that merge together is that right yes so if it's a multidisciplinary access institution we started off the Society of telegraph engineer's and back in 1871 so specifically looking at people working to go back with early Victorian communications field then we became the institution of a traverse the Society of telegraph engineers and of electricians for very short period of time with Goodkin long name and then we became the institution of electrical engineers but we've joined together the various engineering institutions over the years including in 2006 the institution has been corporation engineer's and at that point the IET a be institution of Engineering and Technology was formed so has there been a few collections that have all been brought together then yes so the IIE collections would also be institution of electronic and radio engineers so-called radio engineering collections and the institutional production engineers as some of that fat more kind of production and control engineering collections to and also we've had connections and that have been deposited with us and donated so another great thing about institutional collections is that rather than just being as in corporate records you also get connections that have been and collective crafts for your members and then donated to the institution so two of our red book libraries came by our members but also personal records of members who perhaps working with really big engineering projects of the 19th and 20th century like Telegraph but also and radar and communications wireless and so on presumably and the institution has a very UK focused and you know scope but these do you have other international organizations that you connect with well it's definitely really Keith Bennett had the members outside of UK from really really at formation so we've always had members who've been you've been living and working outside the UK and we have a global membership today so we have over 150,000 members on and however many countries I couldn't reach that number for first around the world and we have local foods and networks in the world and one of the things that were actually doing at the moment a font of our upcoming anniversary celebrations is to document the work of the IET globally which is something but we don't have a huge amount on in the archives a present but we'd really like to encourage our members to to collective know what's going on in their parts of the world and to profit the young donate collections of us so you're looking to expand your archive with them donations from from members yes yes absolutely so they're talking with some of our local groups or who operate at 50 UK and actually try to get a better understanding about what bit what comes the developments invention in look like and note in those parts of the world and big concerns because otherwise you know we all global organization um and the collection should reflect that not to be entirely UK focused what kind of thing are you hoping to get well quelle stories about people without always are always interesting and so you know when we look at the history of engineering technology but we know what we know you know we and we know the stories that we normally tell about about the history of engineering back history of the IEP and that the key members and involved in forming the IEP and and in taking part most massive and important engineering projects but we don't know everything and so part of it is actually going back over old collections and finding new stories and new people new ideas but also talking to our members who are farmer apps that when we are in this area and to say a few other people in your areas that you really want to celebrate and when it comes to the history of engineering technology so you're 150 years old in 2021 if what are your hopes that a future watch your hopes for your 200th anniversary what directions you want to go in it's a good question of EIU in general for a hundred and fiftieth anniversary it's really focusing on the future and focusing especially on getting young people into engineering and the into engineering as a career so a lot of our anniversary activities are around the going out slyzer above all for widening those kind of perceptions of end of engineering when people might have an idea about what an engineer is and provide a smart community for battement actually the really wide-ranging area and and involves a lot of different skills and a lot of different kind of people could working together so so that bite is very much to focus off of the anniversary activity but when it comes to the librarian archive I mean I would hope but actually in in 50 years time the collections you know look really different and we've really expanded our collections looking at engineering technology could have beyond what we what we already talked about really so it would be great to have more international kind of items in our collection I would also be great to just to improve our own knowledge of the IP system and all the records that we have and so I mean anniversary is always a great opportunity to look back with them for work and we're certainly doing my best to do that and and I'm particularly excited because we are trying to do this in the community of a history project where we reach out to our members and all our volunteers and to researchers to say you know that let's look at a little piece of engineering and technology differently you know what what kind of things might come out there and we don't know what goes up which is really exciting so and we could actually end up getting down completely different paths that we put we can't really at the moment what projects are you working on for the foreseeable future name so we're starting a community history project with some of our local networks encouraging them to document the history of their own and their own groups we're putting together some exhibition content looking at the history of me of VI UT and we're also kind of looking again a bit of variety of history to produce from a really good digital content so to look at digitizing some of our collections and then producing some some resources the people at people can use a little bit history of engineering technology are there any particular challenges that come with managing this collection because you've got your members accessing it you've got outside members accessing it and you've got obviously it come from a variety of different organizations that you've now amalgamated into and what is the most sort of difference what are the most difficult things you come across a copy why it's always in issues because I mean identical of a lot of archive especially some of our older collection - perhaps for the intellectual property and where web access isn't always entirely clear so if we have a photographic frontal imperfections and we don't know who took it we don't we might only have a vague idea about the day and you know we might know the subject matter but that's really as far as it goes if you then want this kind of collection and publish it ourselves on the website or perhaps users and social media we have to be very careful ensuring that we're not breaking any any copyright concerns but also but we do we do as far as possible you recognize where where that photos come only trying to find out where that where that's come from and so I think that some commons a lot of archives that where we do where we take collections in now we ask all sorts of questions about where they've come from and who owns the likes and so on but you know clear twenty thirty forty years ago we probably didn't do that so we haven't collect respectively trying to try to work out where where that six really what in your opinion is the most interesting item that you have oh okay just in your own opinion what you what you take a fancy to my personal favorite is from where books and if a trick is called from a Fed of geometric ax and it's Bates from 1598 Alisa treatise on surveying and it has the most amazing pictures of not only uh new surveying instruments but also of surveyors can ask them out and kind of doing their work and there it's really really interesting to all sorts of perspectives new offices at the VA instruments they're using a great and the pictures look great but also because a lot of a time it looks really modernize because perspectival is all is all out of whack but it should but it shows people actually using technology to do a specific job you know and even though the clothes are very different and the and the illustrations are different than the equipment system that's pretty much what what what engineers are are still doing today so 1598 is that your oldest item there no oldest items actually a manuscript from the late 14th century which if Chaucer on the astrolabe and Peter paranormal magnet which if it would give a really fascinating document um because we're going from the magnet is and the first treatise in Europe to really look at the magnet in a scientific way and again it's got some really good illustrations in it and although also on the escalator is not as best-known work and it does have a really interesting introduction when where Chaucer is talking about how important it is to get scientific texts and English which in late 14th century is not an easy sell so so if a let's say you know if your issue English you should actually be able to have scientific text in English so that you can understand them knocking laughing ah that's really interesting and you I know from em from school there's a focus of getting people who wouldn't necessarily consider engineering as a career and so obviously you know in Chaucer's time that would have been maybe a certain class of people but nowadays it's women really if you do a lot of outreach and things like ah well I mean it's the focus of the whole engineering profession at the moment it's a new encouraged and improved diversity and engineering so we want people to come engineers but also they want people to be able to see themselves and engineers and see that as a career that they could practically do and one of the things that we've been working with with quite a few partners over the last few years is looking again at the history of women in engineering I mean since really put my 2015-2016 when we first started talking about this working with women's Engineering Society University of Leeds for the huge amount on here and better project that's Jeff solution Airport electrifying women which is looking over here the long history of women engineering they've been a fantastic book called my different women in their revolutionary machines that was published by Henrietta healed and it's been really exciting because that's probably about five five six years ago when we talked about women engineers in the archives we probably would have talked about maybe half a dozen you know the same names would have come up again and again and not because we didn't want to talk about women tension both of the people we knew about where there's been a for last years have been a huge amount of research most of which done by volunteers not by us to really look into the history of hood in engineering and there's been a project that's been spearheaded by the women's Engineering Society severe some keenly encouraging the addition of articles on Wikipedia so adding new Borger feasible engineers on to Wikipedia and they've now added I think over three hundred so we've gone from six to hundred and in this fairly short space of time and that's all about using the collections that we have and using kind of other records to the search women engineers and we found once we started looking for those an engineer so a lot problems so you know I think that that's really shows you how important it is to keep archives but also how important is to keep looking at them and never to assume you know everything about a collection because actually somebody else can look about collections a different perspective you're going to find a lot of different things and really new new new information as well so and that's able to everyone I mean the Journal of Olymp Engineering Society founded in 1990 the oldest Engineering Society for women in the world and that's our online central crowdfunded project precipitated by web and that's accessible to have people here to assess what by our our website our wedge website and anybody can go on there and and search and look for people and a great index to at a course you can see see who's there but it's a fantastic source of information neva and Barker feeds of Women Engineers there's news of Engineers so saying that so insensitive been elected to membership of a certain organizational decree job you know there's articles by Women Engineers explaining what it's like to well I think this inspector it really is a fantastic source and be moving to work more digitally now as we do it means that a far greater number of people can actually access our collection music really really changing historical records when it comes down to it look in the general public access that by your website yes so it's go to the IOT archives website and then our it's actually on the main aisle of IT archive page it's also accessible while our women engineering exhibition and it's accessible it successful complex accessible I should say by a B women's engineering society as well just search for a woman engineer the digitizer mode should come up so that's another organization you've cleaned up with for this project do you team up with anyone else do you lend out your collection or anything like that or is it all on site that people have to visit you we work with other with other organizations whenever we can because especially looking at things that are opening up the collections because any of really a small number of people can come and look at the collections where they are so for example we loaned one of items to the Science Museum the recent exhibition on the Sun and which is which was actually off rather than rolls in an archive but it's from a selection of selenium bars that was used by one of our early members to demonstrating the first person to demonstrate the photoelectric properties of selenium which is a start of solar power generation but it's also have a start of of consensus and and eventually things like film cameras that use electrical impulses to to conjecture generated images and power so so yes absolute is typically interesting some piece of kick and bass still unknown to the science community exhibition which is unfortunately it was due to go on an international tour but some of those plans were course covered oil and emic say so that we're still waiting to hear what's going to happen that particular exhibition but we do until I do that as much as possible because you know we do have these amazing collections and we should work with as many people as we can to make them accessible to do it as many people here some you're interested in the subject I would definitely have to port me my dad in the direction of your website which wouldn't be very interested here he does them mentoring for some engineers or he'll be very interested in women section he always wanted me to do it and yes it's equipment going with and is there any whatever else you want to point people in the direction of I think just just goes you have look of your IP off quite a catalogs online you know how about have a search around and see what's fair we've also got an active on Twitter account which is some iut loboc where we where we try and promote our collections and and an images from the collections as well so and you know you can touch if you're interested in history engineering technology you want to find out more you have any events plans one hundred and fiftieth anniversary are there bit on hold at the moment to see what happens I don't want to say anything to be really know whatever but we are we are planning some big celebrations both in terms of events and also in terms of kind of getting digital content out there as well perfect thank you so much for a great speech which there and it was really interesting hearing that all the work yo u do and and not very well-known institution if you don't mind me saying but I'm certainly doing wonderful work thank you very much so is it so it is great happy opportunity to talk to ya thank you very much kids I said bye