Volunteer Week – Conservation
- 1st June 2019
Volunteers contributed 3281 hours (444 days!) last year across the service and provide fantastic help in many different ways. Some have been volunteering with us longer than we can remember and we appreciate them so much. In most cases they are doing ‘value added’ work which we would not be able to do otherwise as part of our core work, such as indexing, so they enable us to provide more to our customers. We’ll be sharing stories of some of our volunteers this week but we’ll start with those who help our Conservator, Rhonda. She has written this blog about them
Volunteer Week seems like the perfect opportunity to thank our stunning volunteers that turn up week after week to help me out in the Conservation studio on Level 0 at the Hive. With 12 miles of archives for me to look after, I realised soon after my arrival in December 2012 that in order to do my best for the archives in our care, I would need to call in reinforcements in the form of volunteers. My first volunteers signed up in March 2013, and I’m very pleased to say I still have a number of ‘originals’ that continue to come along more than 6 years later.
Generally I schedule the work in pairs as in the beginning a number arrived with friends but as time has gone on, some pairs have become trios and I like to hope that new friendships have been made. Some have left and others have arrived, but each week I aim to have a team working on cleaning Quarter Sessions documents and another making boxes for over-sized volumes that don’t fit in our standard archive boxes, with a further project to make wrappers for damaged volumes within the Palfrey collection. As many of my volunteers have other commitments and priorities, I draw up the schedule a few months in advance, tending to avoid school holidays. With advance notice, we all seem to work easily around holidays and other important activities.
To date, over 300 large volumes have been individually measured and boxes carefully cut and folded to provide bespoke boxes in place of the brown paper they were previously wrapped in, Quarter Sessions documents from more than 25 years have been cleaned, and approximately 200 Palfrey volumes are now safely stored in protective wrappers until conservation can be carried out. Without all the hard work of my volunteers, none of this would have been possible as my time tends to be spent on a considerable back-log of items in need of Conservation, and the need for me to focus on various funded projects that require Conservation.
To provide a bit of a change, many of my volunteers have decided to help out with a new project funded by the Wellcome Trust working on a variety of Health Records from across Worcestershire. From removing staples and re-sewing pamphlets, to making boxes, and folding folders I will be needing plenty of help with this throughout the next 18 months.
It’s not all hard work though, as my volunteers seem to always find time for coffee and the odd biscuit along the way, and they all seem to enjoy nothing more than discovering a newspaper within the Quarter Sessions documents.
So thank you to all my stunning volunteers for all the hard work that you put in. I really couldn’t do it without you!