It’s time to Explore Your Archive!

This week the Explore Your Archive campaign is running across the UK and Ireland. This annual campaign was launched last year by The National Archives and the Archives and Records Association (UK and Ireland) to ‘raise awareness of archives, their value to society and the impact they have on individual lives.’ Its aim is to promote archives to people who have previously never interacted with them, through a week-long programme of events and activities. Click on the video below to watch the advertisement for this year’s campaign:

Obviously we would have wanted to take part in Explore Your Archive this year, but as the building phase of the York: Gateway to History project hasn’t quite finished yet we are not able to offer tours of the new service or any exhibitions at the moment. Never fear, though, as yesterday I put on my hard hat and high vis jacket and took my camera to York Explore to give you a virtual tour of the new public spaces instead…

You are now entering the world of Archives and Local History…
When you arrive on the first floor landing at York Explore, you’ll see we’ve cleaned and re-grouted the floor tiles, and installed a new SmartTV screen next to the entrance to Archives and Local History, which we will use to provide useful information about our services and to advertise events. We have a similar screen on the other side of the landing for people using the lift.

First floor landing
We have cleaned the landing and installed new benches to make it a more welcoming space.

Stop 1…Local History
This is the first room you come to in the new service, and as well as housing our Local History collections it is also the Quiet Study space for the library. We’ve installed a new staff desk, refurbished the bookcases, the parquet floor and some of the existing tables and chairs and laid a new carpet. There’s also new lighting, and behind the scenes we have installed a new ventilation system to regulate the temperature better. We are currently awaiting the delivery of six new height-adjustable desks, chairs and some additional bookcases, so when it’s finished the room will have space for 32 people, including four using public network PCs. The room will also be equipped with two computers for searching the library and archives catalogues, a SmartTV screen and a walk-up book scanner. The bookcases are currently empty, but I promise we will have the books on the shelves by 5th January!

Reception desk
The new staff reception desk in Local History
Local History
Not all the furniture has arrived yet but it is already looking great!

…and on your left
The new Archives Reading Room is located to the left of the staff desk as you enter Archives and Local History, and is now complete with a stunning glass door for security. The room will accommodate 12 archives users at once, and also has a new staff desk. By the time we open it will also have a SmartTV screen, book scanner and a height-adjustable digitisation table with a tripod for people wanting to photograph archives. We have managed to get the periodicals back on the shelves in this space already, and we will also have some council minutes, accounts and early electoral registers on open access for the first time.

Reading Room Door
Entry to the Archives Reading Room is through our new glass door.
Archives Reading Room
Part of the Archives Reading Room.

Through to…Family History
Our new Family History room is at the other end of Local History, in a space which was previously closed to the public. It’s also the room that has undergone the biggest transformation, as we have removed the old shelving and installed a mezzanine level which will hold a large table and chairs. It’s not the easiest space to photograph given its height, so rather than relying on my photography you might need to visit it for yourselves to see what a great room it is! The Family History room will also have three public network PCs, three new digital microfilm readers and a SmartTV, plus some comfortable chairs and tables for anyone wanting to use their own laptop or tablet to access the library Wifi.

The new mezzanine structure – it’s a feat of engineering!
PC tables
Our new desks awaiting their PC’s and microfilm readers

…and finally…
Our final port of call on this whistle-stop tour is most likely the one you have all been waiting for…the inside of the ‘gold box’. I can confirm that the new mobile shelving has been installed and we are waiting for our first batch of archives to come back (which we are very excited about!).

One of our new runs of shelving – it won’t be this empty for long!

And that concludes our virtual tour of the new service! I hope that it gives you an idea of some of the work we have done over the summer, and I look forward to seeing you all in the new service January! As I mentioned earlier this year’s Explore Your Archive campaign is running at the moment, so if you want to find out more about events in your area visit their website.

If you do have any first impressions on the new service, please let us know, either by commenting here or by emailing me direct (

2 thoughts on “It’s time to Explore Your Archive!

  1.  however id we manage in the days of  no tv and internet. We went to the library in Yokr, explored the shelves children and adults with my mum. we came home with travel books, history  romances, historic novels .     Leaving school going to work in war time, we stacked up on reading as going out in the blackout was not much fun.  we read in bed  for half an hour if we were good and sunday em was a treat when we had breakfast in bed and comic papers, dandy, beano and the like.    Schools encouraged us to read.   My mum paid monthly for Arthur Mees 10  childrens Encyclopedias and read them from end to end, helping very much with school work.  Our teacher borrowed them one at a time. and gave me  globe of th world in thanks,    little tine on  that swung round.   Very useful for school and geograophy lesssons.Dont let children spedn their time gazing at the tv set.     limit it to a programe they like and then into bed with a book or 30 minutes.   We had a rubber hot water boottle at our feet. no central heating then, justa  coal fire in the  lounge. Mum sent us to the new Museum near the castle that had opened and it was our saturday half filled.  We walked it from door to door, we loved the Street.     The poor horse got some mighty pats from us.    Let your kids get to go out and see their city, life isnt all tv and internet as they seems  to think.      Mum took us onto knavesmire to play balll, we went over the road and acorrs the allotments to Hob Moor too. my granny lived off boootham and seh sent us down the road to look over the level crossing gates at trains going past.      Knavesmire was the bast, we could run and kick balls, thtrow balls and shout our heads offf too.We stood in York station on the bridge with trains going to and fro  all hissing and steaming.       The Museum gardens we liked to use to cut through to my grannys home   coming up in marygate.    I do hope modern children dont just sit and watch tv and internet as we are told they do.    The miss so much.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s