The holy trinity for an archivist

Lovisa Kragerud is the Corporate Archivist & Chief Storyteller at The Absolut Company.

Lovisa Kragerud was hired last year as TAC’s first ever Corporate Archivist & Chief Storyteller. She is now on a three-part mission – to build an archive from scratch, dig deeper into the company’s almost 150-year history, and make it accessible for future generations. She’s just started scratching the surface, but as it turns out, it’s a perfect match for a curious book-worm and someone who’s always believed she was born into the wrong century. 

As an archivist, where do you spend most of your working days?

I spend most of the time in the office but compared to a normal office worker I get out much more. At least if spending every otherweek in a cold storage facility in Åhus counts as getting out! This is my first year here and since I’m the first archivist ever at the company, much of my work has focused on building our archive from scratch. That’s why I spend so much time going through decades worth of stuff. It’s been stored over the years for someone like me to take care of.

What’s the most important job for an archivist – digging into the past or preserving for the future?

The two are actually mutually exclusive; they’re impossible to separate. Without going through the past there’s nothing to preserve, and vice versa. And there’s actually a third element too, which is often forgotten but equally as important, and that is making the archive accessible. Not just for me, but for anyone who will want to find out what we did a hundred years from now. 

Sounds like tiresome work. Is it?

I really wouldn’t call it tiresome. This job is a dream come true for an archivist, because with our history you find new exciting things almost every day. At the same time, it’s really heavy work! I’ve gone through around 150 pallets worth of stuff, each containing roughly 15 boxes, and basically every single item needs to be cleaned, catalogued and photographed – or disposed. But it’s a really exciting and important job, because I know how valuable this is before you can start really digging into our past.

What’s your best finding so far?

Wow, that’s a difficult question to answer. There are plenty! I guess the most significant finding so far is discovering that our founder LO Smith was one of the first to ever seek a patent in Sweden, for Carlshamn’s Flaggpunsch, which is still being produced. That’s the sort of thing you stumble across that really makes this job fascinating. 

I discover new stuff every week, though, and sometimes it’s just by accident. Like yesterday, when our internet connection at the office was down for a few hours, I got time to talk to our janitor who told me that he owned a copy of basically every print ad ever created for Absolut Vodka. I had already prepared to acquire all the ads elsewhere, but my spontaneous meeting with our janitor saved us both valuable time and money. In other words, you have to be social when working as an archivist.

You spend much time alone in your job, though. Have you always enjoyed that?

I have. I grew up with seven siblings – well, two were actually step siblings and three were cousins – but there was always people around. So when I needed to get away for a while I would borrow my mother’s collection of romantic novels – like Catherine Cook novels. But when I had read them all, the library soon became my second home. 

Do you still find comfort in libraries?

I’m more into museums these days – I go to at least one every weekend. Since I’m a daydreamer, museums are the perfect escape for me. Not least because I have always believed I’m born into the wrong century. I still have a special bond to libraries though, and especially to librarians. One day, I’d like to become like the typical librarian here at TAC. You know the one who’s almost part of the furniture, the one who knows every corner, and every story that surrounds the place.