The storm before the calm

Is it really that long since my last post? Oh dear, time has flown. Since then I have unpacked, sorted, shelved and scanned the barcodes of over 850 boxes. I keep taking pictures to post on here, and then before I get the chance to put them online I unpack more boxes and so take more recent pictures and so want to put them up instead!

Four out of thirty-odd large shelving units.

Here are the photos from last week – the shelves are filling up nicely. The rollcages that I receive are packed with a jumble of boxes packed in for space efficiency that I then need to separate out into clusters of accessions, which I group around my space in a sensible fashion. Hopefully I’ve just two more half-lorry load deliveries to go.

Yep - exactly the same roll cages that you see used for supermarket deliveries.
Yep – exactly the same roll cages that you see used for supermarket deliveries.

It’s time consuming and hard work, but physically sorting the boxes is a helpful “pass through” of the physical material for me on a macro scale. I can see the accessions fitting into my structure, and am surprised by the size of some of them, such as our civic defence and environmental health files. It’s frustrating that I can’t get properly stuck in yet, but at least I’m engaging with the records on a personal level.

Card indexes from various plan collections
Some of the legacy item-level finding aids – original indexes that correlate to various civic plan collections

The art gallery decant should be finished in early June, which means I’ll have not only the civic records but also the furniture and preservation supplies that I need to be able to setup ready for the volunteers. After working on my own for over a month to prep everything, it will be great to be joined by a group of passionate local people of varied ages and experiences to get our hands dirty together working with this collection.

I can’t wait to have the team in place, and will be organising a training day as soon as the workroom is finally clear of pallets and rollcages. Hopefully they’ll let me introduce them to you all on here, and join in this blogging journey by pointing out what catches their eyes as they physically process the documents.


Elsewhere in the Libraries and Archives department, the exploration of whether we might become a social enterprise continues to develop. It’s a long and complicated process, so our head of service Fiona Williams is blogging about it at . It’s a good place to find out about the bigger picture, or ask her any questions, or you can pop into a library to read the display boards and pass on any comments in person.

Thank-you for your patience with my infrequent postings. I really hope the calm is just round the corner. Moving an archive is a big task, but makes sense as part of this reinvigoration and reworking of access to all our collections for the 21st century: no pain, no gain!

5 thoughts on “The storm before the calm

    1. It’s the inside of the main library Audrey, it was refurbished a few years ago. Isn’t it great? Very light and airy, the shelves can be moved to host events and there’s a cafe now too where you can read the paper and have coffee.

  1. I hope that all York school children will be told of this facility.
    I used to love my weekly visits to the Library as a child. We took our book home plus 2 more from my mothers adult section. we had history, travel, fiction and found our homework was helped too by getting books out on history, geography etc.
    The childrens library was full of good books and authors too.
    I wonder how many parents introduce their children to the library and enrol them nowadays?

    1. I have really fond memories of visiting my local library (and mobile library) every week as a child and coming home with bags of books. I’ve never got the habit of buying books because of this, I much prefer to borrow them!

      Our libraries are really popular with children, we run events for all ages including story times and reading challenges. There are often photos on our Facebook pages of what we’ve been up to:

      As for your idea that every child should know about the library – we completely agree and just last month started a project with the Arts Council where we send a ready-made library card to the parents and carers of every local child about to start school for the first time this September. Hopefully this will help even more children enjoy themselves with books, just like we did.

      1. We didnt of course have TV when I was a child, so the Childrens Hour programme on the radio was usually listened to. \
        We also were lucky in having a mother who would read to us.
        she had an old well thumbed Hans Anderson fairy stories.
        We loved them all. My favourite was perhaps the shortest, – The Little Match Girl! I never tired of it.
        We had the Grimms Fairy Stories too, but I found them a bit scarey at times.
        We had old books from my dads childhood too. lovely embossed covers. Craddles, (or saved from the sea) I loved the story of Her Benny too,another oldie. We read Dickens also and I have sat around our open coal fire enthralled when mum read them to us./
        We could read in bed for half an hour if we went off when told!!
        alsp on Saturday and sunday Morning/
        My mother went with us to the library and showed us where different types of books were, we would choose ours and then go into her adult section and could choose another one or two from the non fiction section. I loved the travel ones by explorers and also got addicted to the Tarzan books. Edgar Rice Burroughs wrote
        other books and I read them also.
        Mum got the Arthur Mees 10 Childrens Encyclopedias and they were invaluable to us for homework etc.


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