My First Week as Archivist at The Hive
- 24th July 2020
|Hello everyone, I’d like to introduce myself as new member of the Archive Service at The Hive. Living locally in Worcester and after…..hmmmm let me count…. 10 years in the archives and records/information management sector I feel very privileged to be starting my new role as Archivist in Worcestershire. Having gained a lot of experience in records management you may ask, what made you switch back to work in an archival setting? Well, I missed the positive feeling I got from helping researchers and building my knowledge about archive collections during the process.
My interview was back in March and to some of my colleagues it feels like it has taken a long time to wait until we could meet. The delay has been partly due to Covid-19 restrictions of course. After many weeks of waiting, last week I was able to step foot in The Hive building and meet some of my new colleagues. We are working in separate ‘bubbles’ for health and safety reasons, with all hands to the desk to respond to research enquiries we’ve haven’t been able to answer and to prepare for re-opening to the public in a limited capacity.
After five weeks of skype meetings and telephone inductions I was greeted last week in person by the most enthusiastic, knowledgeable and cohesive set of individuals that make up just part of my team. Thank you, Alice, Carol, Julia and Angie, for guiding me this week.
It’s great timing that we were recently allowed back into The Hive building, coinciding with the 8th Anniversary of its opening, which some of you may remember. Our Manager and County Archivist Adrian Gregson comments,
‘It is ironic that last time we were preparing for opening there were lots of us around the building, getting it all ready, making sure it was as welcoming and as open as possible – ironically, the re-opening this July is worlds away, though we understand the reasons why.
I have thoroughly enjoyed this octade and while several staff have left us, so a number of joined. WAAS has really progressed and been established as a clear brand leader across the sector but in what is now a time of great uncertainty maybe a focus on learning from our shared history is a good place to start the rebuilding.’
Being allowed in The Hive of course means we now have access to the archive collections so we’ve been working very hard consulting them and providing copies in answer to your enquiries. This is not so simple since 72hrs of quarantine is required after we consult an item, so it requires careful co-ordination to use our much-handled hardcopy indexes, for instance! To compensate as best we can for researchers not having access in person we have extended our 30-minute paid research offer limit to 1 hour for the same fee, so we can assist as much as possible within the limitations Covid-19 places on us.
Other projects are starting to re-commence such as the digitisation of Bishop’s Transcripts of Parish Registers by Ancestry. In preparation Alice, fellow Archivist and I have made volumes available for Ancestry to photograph. The money we gain from this will go towards our Digital Preservation programme, so it is important it re-commences. Digital Preservation is vital as it ensures our digital collections remain accessible in the long-term!
I also met a very highly esteemed member of our team, Maggie Tohill, Archivist who has accumulated a vast amount of knowledge about our collections and their organisation. Maggie gave me a tour of the store rooms and an introduction to our classification scheme, which is grouped by depositor/depositor types and has been evolving since the 1940s when the first County Archivist set it up. I’ve learned it runs parallel, handily as an alternative finding-aid to our reference system. Thank you, Maggie!
There is a different atmosphere in The Hive due to social distancing rules and limited access for the public. However, my team are glad to be back. It is a welcome change to have a broader array of work. Some tasks being worked on at home, although worthwhile, can be somewhat repetitive you see!
Our very witty and humorous Conservator, Rhonda, gave me her thoughts on being back in The Hive after months of working from home,
‘Well, it’s not quite the same being back.…it was quite strange to see my calendar stuck on March when I came in. Since returning, I’ve finished off some of the more squalid items from the Market Gardening project that I didn’t fancy working on in my living room – after however many years in some market gardening ‘hovel’ who knows what might be on it (my job is so glamorous!). I’ve replaced the insect traps in the strong rooms – see, told you my job is glamorous. I’ve started surveying Maggie’s (Archivist) District Council material to see what it needs in terms of packaging and conservation and have worked out a procedure with John (Senior Archival Photographer) for how we co-ordinate our work with minimal impact on each other- he takes the ‘before’ pics of material that I’m working on. I’ve also devised a long reading list and remembered just how boring a crusty old cheese sandwich is for lunch!’
It was great to see Rhonda at work and I even took a sneaky pic of her workroom. Rhonda may say her job isn’t glamorous but it I find it fascinating!
We understand it has been a frustrating time for users, with not being able to visit the Hive to continue with research. Thank you for your patience. We are working towards partially re-opening the search room area which will require you to book and supply references of items you need to use in advance. Keep a look out for our re-opening plans at Explore the Past