Taking control of the archive, box by box by box

Joy and Edward getting stuck in with the inventory
Joy and Edward getting stuck in with the inventory

Time has flown since my last blog post! I’ve now been to the local storage contractor I told you about, to see the space for the first time and see how much of the collection we can fit in, based on the measurements taken the week before.

It was a really useful visit as it let us see all the facilities including office space, access for delivery vehicles, security, internet, processing space, shelving etc. It looks like a really workable space, phew! We’ve worked out how much we can fit in there, and are negotiating for the extra shelving we need.

As expected, we won’t be able to fit in all the civic archive at once, so the rest will be stored elsewhere with the non-civic archive collections until a large chunk has been catalogued, then we can have a swap over.  This obviously requires a high level of physical control of individual boxes so we can safely transport and accurately identify them. We do this with an inventory. This control is required for the whole archive, not just the civic records.

Chloe and Phil focusing hard on day 3 of the inventory
Chloe and Phil focusing hard on day 3 of the inventory

So, three temporary staff have joined us for a few weeks working full time with Joy and Victoria to make a precise inventory and package items that need stabilising for the move. This means boxing for some and wrapping in Tyvek for others. When the movers are appointed, we’ll then get the barcode stickers and can link this up to our new inventory so we know exactly where everything is at any one time.

Joy inputting the handwritten invenotry forms onto a good ole spreadsheet
Joy inputting the handwritten inventory forms onto a good ole spreadsheet

While they’re doing that, I’m working out the staged move – splitting the archive into discrete chunks of the right size (such as the Giles-listed material or the NYCRO-catalogued Town Clerks boxes) and deciding which order everything should be catalogued in. I don’t want to make a mistake and find the series of records I need to catalogue first has accidentally been send a hundred miles away!

Aisle 1 as you've never seen it before - no loose papers!
Aisle 1 as you’ve never seen it before – no loose papers!

The next step will be for Victoria to recruit the volunteers who will physically process the records as I catalogue them. I’ll let you know as soon as the advert is ready in case any of you would like to apply. The final details are still being sorted out but it’s looking like we’ll need 8 people, able to give a regular commitment of one afternoon per week (on specific days), starting around June time. This isn’t finalised yet so please bear with me, you’ll know as soon as I do.

Stay tuned next week for my next Lucky Dip post, if I can nip into aisle 7 to grab something without getting in everyone’s way!

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