Thursday, 27 October 2011

Behind the Scenes... Document Reception

Today we start a behind-the-scenes tour of our current branches, based at County Hall and the History Centre. Hopefully by seeing where we are working you will get a better idea of the types of things we do. When we move to the Hive we will let you see behind-the-scenes photos of our facilities there too, and we're sure you will see the massive improvement!

Today we start with Document Reception:

What is it?
Document Reception was originally designed to be exactly that - the place where we received any new deposits of records, ready for sorting. Since we have grown as an office and are struggling for space, this room is now also the place where the sorting, listing and cataloguing of records happens. As you can see from the photographs it can sometimes be a bit of a competition for space.

Who works there?
Maggie (Head of Cataloguing and Head of Repository), Liz (CALM Archivist) and Kat (Worcester City Project Archivist) work down here permanently. When we have Archives Assistants working to catalogue collections they join them down here too.

What will this room be like in the Hive?
When we get to the Hive we will have a lot more room to carry out the essential work that takes place here, with a whole suite of rooms designed for specific activities. These are:
  • Document Reception - for items to be checked when we first receive them before they are then moved to quarantine or the strongrooms;
  • Quarantine room - for items which need to be isolated and cleaned or treated before entering our strongrooms;
  • Cleaning and Sorting room - sometimes documents can be very dirty when they come to us, or sometimes we just have big collections that need space for sorting;
  • Cataloguing and Packaging room - where work will be carried out to prepare online, accessible catalogues for the public to use;
  • and finally a Conservation room for the treatment of records requiring preservation or conservation work.
The new space and facilities the Hive will provide mean that our staff will be able to work a lot more effectively.

Monday, 24 October 2011

Top 10 Archives... No.10

This week sees the start of a countdown of our Top 10 most frequently accessed archive collections. We have checked our document production figures for the last couple of years in order to see what our users are requesting to view most often and here we will let you know a bit about each of the collections featured. 

In at number 10 is...

The Croome collection - the archives of the Earls of Coventry
The Croome collection was created over hundreds of years by the Coventry family and their estates across Worcestershire, Gloucestershire, London and beyond. The unique archive came into public ownership in 2005 as part of the Acceptance in Lieu of Inheritance Tax Scheme, whereby the nation accepts valuable assets to set against tax liabilities. In 2006, after making a case for housing this exceptional collection, Worcestershire Record Office was delighted to be identified as its new permanent home.

Plan of Croome park by John Snape, 1796

The archive includes substantial runs of papers relating to the estates of the family, including plans, rentals, deeds and correspondence. It also includes unique records relating to the building, decoration and furnishing of Croome Court, and the creation and development of the parkland surrounding it, which was Lancelot 'Capability' Brown's first complete landscape work.
The collection provides an invaluable insight into the history of the county and is a very important resource for researchers. The collection held at the Record Office covers the estate archives up to the year 1921. Records created after this date remain with the Croome Estate office. The collection is currently being catalogued and parts of it are now available to search online.

Check back next week for number 9!

Friday, 21 October 2011

Why are we moving?

It's a huge amount of effort to move an entire Record Office to new premises, so some may question why exactly we are doing it?

When Worcestershire Record Office first opened in 1947 it was situated at the Shire Hall in Worcester city. In the mid-1950s additional space was added with the acquisition of the St. Helen’s church and it has been since this date that we have operated across two branches. In 1985 the Record Office moved to a purpose-built building located on the County Hall campus in Worcester. In 2001 the branch at St Helen’s was closed, and a new History Centre was opened on Trinity Street in the city. We have now outgrown our current homes. By moving to the Hive we have the opportunity for the first time in over 60 years to be united together in one building. This means our users will no longer have to travel several miles in order to enjoy the benefits of both of our branches!

So, what are the benefits of having the Record Office branches all under one roof?

Our new state-of-the-art facilities at the Hive will offer:
  • Increased access to our resources - the Hive will be open from 8.30am until 10pm and we will be making available self-service resources during these extra hours, such as surrogate copies of records on microfilm.
  • Increased storage space - which means we will no longer have to keep tens of thousands of our boxes out at external storage facilities. Not only will this save us a lot of money (we currently spend c.£30,000 a year in outstore fees), but it also means our users will no longer have to wait for deliveries to be made from the outstores to view records.
  • Improved storage facilities (which will all conform to the standards set by BS5454!)
  • Space to grow - we will have enough storage space to allow for approximately 15 years of new deposits.
The new facilities on offer will be a vast improvement on our current situation and we hope they will serve to attract new users to our service.

Wednesday, 19 October 2011

What is the Hive?

In July 2012 we will be ready to welcome you to our new home at the Hive, in the centre of Worcester. Some of you may be wondering what on earth the Hive is, so here we will let you know a little bit more about it.

Staff visiting the Hive for a tour of their future home

The Hive is a £60 million joint venture between Worcestershire County Council and the University of Worcester, which is being made possible through the help of funding from PFI (Public Finance Initiative) credits. This is a fantastic opportunity to build a partnership way of working, which will provide a bigger and better service for the people of Worcester and all its visitors.

The gold clad building, which has attracted a lot of attention, has already won design awards and has been constructed with aspirations to provide a carbon neutral delivery of services, in line with the County Council's Carbon Management Plan and the University's environmental objectives.

So what will you find inside? The new building will include:
• A fully integrated public and University library
• Worcestershire Record Office
• Worcestershire Historic Environment and Archaeology Service
• Worcestershire Hub Customer Service Centre

As well as these services you will also find cafĂ© and refreshment outlets, meeting rooms and exhibition and drama spaces. 

Staff inside one of our new strongrooms currently under construction

When we get to the Hive, Worcestershire Record Office will become a joint service along with the Worcestershire Historic Environment and Archaeology Service and together we will occupy the History floor on Level One. We will be bringing you a much improved service that will include increased access to self-service resources, which will be available from 8:30am, when the Hive opens, until it closes at 10pm.

You can find out more about the Hive by following this link.

We're looking forward to seeing how our service can develop further at our new home, we hope you're excited to join us there!

Tuesday, 11 October 2011

Getting to know us... Part 4

Here's the final installment of our staff introductions.

(From left to right): Isabel, Admin Support Assistant: Always have to be doing "something". Current fad is crochet – am making loads of crochet flower brooches & hair slides. Guess what everyone is getting for Christmas this year!

Jean, Archivist (Acting): Ray Charles is my number one favourite musician, love music, Jules Holland, gardening, gin and tonic, walks on deserted beaches and looking at the stars, tend to take the mickey, don't take life too seriously.

Paul, Head of Worcestershire History Centre: Supports Middlesbrough FC, and just as proud at being part of our lowest ever crowd as I was in attending our first ever Wembley appearance.

Val, Archives Assistant: I am a keen gardener and use the phases of the moon when planting doesn't work though!!

Beth, Outreach Worker: Loves her baby boy, being by the sea side, activities requiring walking boots, coffee, girly gatherings, any event that requires bunting, old maps, ethereal American folksy music and her husband.  Maybe not in that order. 

Justin, Outreach worker: Actual  job – chauffeur to my progeny. Like a good boondoggle (hoppy beer) and melancholic celtic music!

(Not pictured):
Sandra, Casual Archives Assistant: Chocoholic, absolutely adore puddings.  Can bore folk with info on Worcestershire war memorials and their casualties.  Suffers frequently from 'grannynesia!!'

Lesley, Archives Assistant: Likes: cinema, music, detective stories, Harry Potter, travel, Richard III, art deco,  Johnny Depp and cream scones.  Dislikes: all reality tv shows, and banana flavoured anything.

Teresa, Archives Assistant: Loves baking, studying and competitons.

Steve, Archives Assistant: A bit of a nostalgia addict! I love studying  history, including my lifelong obsessions with railways and steam locomotives, and military history. Chelsea FC supporter and guitarist.

Hilary, Archives Assistant: Can't enter a fabric or craft shop without buying something. Loves modern jive and swing dance, knows all the right moves but not necessarily in the right order. 
David, Local Studies Librarian: Enjoys tennis, modern jive & salsa.  Always pleased when it's an F1 weekend.  Guilty pleasure: watching Challenge TV.
Elizabeth, Casual Archives Assistant: Another chocoholic, fortunately also enjoy gardening, yoga and walking, nothing too strenuous though.

We hope you've enjoyed getting to know us all a bit better. We'll be back soon with more behind the scenes information and a count down of the Top Ten most used archives.

Getting to know us... Part 3

(From left to right): Adrian, Project Officer: A 'warrior' of the old school. Enjoys a good rioja and crossword, sitting in the sun.

Julia, Archives Assistant: Very slightly addicted to charity shops.

(From left to right): Carol, Archives Assistant: Loves cycling and touring the youth hostels of Britain in the search for yet another dainty tea set.

Elaine, Records and Information Services Manager: Passionate about chilli and chocolate peanuts, dancing to reggae music and drinking Pimms with friends under the stars

Angie, Senior Archives Assistant: Belly Dancer (not cabaret, but Gypsy style) any excuse to dress up!!

Bethany, Archives Assistant: Also a coffee addict, am becoming a bit obsessed with my new Kindle, and miss my aging Chocolate Labrador, Xena (left behind in the States), very much!

Lisa, Archives Manager: Loves travel,  Strictly Come Dancing, meeting with friends and cake.

Wednesday, 5 October 2011

Getting to know us... Part 2

Here's the second installment of our staff introductions:

(From left to right): Chris, Archives Assistant: Love wearing earrings, eating chocolate – the darker the better and shoes especially my Jimmy Choos but not during work time!

Vicky, Archivist: I love my family, day trips, picnics, painting, drawing, chocolate and reading.

(From left to right):
Jonathan, Microfilming/Digitising Assistant: Keen cyclist, photographer, cook and OU student (currently astrophysics)...usually mixing several things at once!

Kat, Archivist: Loves cats, hates cows, and couldn't tell you what my natural hair colour is. Is an enthusiastic but terrible dancer.

Fran, Senior Archives Assistant: Love gardening and my dog Dale. Soon to be a Granny for the first time…very excited!!

Claire, Archives Assistant: Addicted to coffee, QVC and Zumba with friends!!

Tom, Archives Assistant: Enjoy playing rackets, real tennis, squash, guitar and drums. Any obscure and unpopular sport, movie or band and I'm there.

Maggie, Head of Repository (County Hall branch): Love detective fiction, 'pop' music, Sci fi films and progs, watching Dr Who with my son, knitting, chocolate and Drucker's lemon cheesecake.

Come back soon for the next installment!

Monday, 3 October 2011

Getting to know us... Part 1

Welcome finally to our brand new blog. Before we get started we thought we should introduce you to our staff. They may pop up from time to time on here so it's only polite we tell you who they all are. These are the people who work hard to deliver a fantastic service at the Record Office, and will be working even harder to ensure our move to the Hive is smooth and succesful!

(From left to right): Su, Outreach Assistant: Loves wearing purple and red and can't walk past a stationery shop without a quick look!

Faye, Archives Assistant: Enjoy horse-riding – mainly dressage and the occasional 'graceful dismount'! and practising her Spanish.

Jill, Admin Assistant: Love my cats Sweep and Pebble and our adopted feral stray, holidays especially Florida (a subject I can bore for Britain on, most staff will agree), want to visit my brother in Australia when I can afford the flight and the time to go! Coffee and Chocolate are a perfect combination.

Charlene, Archivist (Customer Services and Outreach): Appears to be developing a slight obsession with nail varnish and currently has 48 different colours!
Alan, General Assistant: A real "Mr Fix-It" who loves tinkering with motorbikes and cars and spending time with my grandson.

Paul, Archives Assistant: A history addict who loves dressing up and relishes photo opportunities. Never to be seen without a cup of tea in my hand.

Helen, Archives Assistant: Spends most of my time living in the past though enjoys the comforts of the 21st century.

We'll be back soon with more staff introductions.