And now the end is near…

As 2014 draws to a close and we prepare to begin delivering all the rest of the exciting projects we’ve got planned for the next four years of the HLF project, we thought it might be nice to look back on 12 of our important numbers during this year, in a 12 days of Christmas style.

In the 12 months since last Christmas we have opened Heritage Quay!  A new HLF-funded archive, with exhibitions and technology. (Ok, don’t panic, that’s the last of the rhyming!)

… 11 events a month is about the number we’re hosting in our new exhibition and group spaces.  These range from university open days, to public lectures, or seminars for students and private tours for local community groups.  Check the Events calendar for details, but you could attend a special workshop like this one that ran during the Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festival.

… 10 new volunteers have worked in the archive in 2014, joining our small band of regular volunteering stalwarts.  Their contribution in listing, surveying and cleaning records prior to our move cannot be under-estimated!  They have been amazing.

… 9 groups of students from different courses and years have come into the archive this year for an ‘Introduction to Archive Skills’ course and a chance to look at some of our materials.  We hope this might then inspire return visits to connect archives to coursework and dissertation topics.

… 8 research themes are the basis of our decision making on what collections we take on.  To re-cap, these are Education, Women, Sport, Music, Politics, Health, Industry and Non-conformity.  If you want to know more about who we are and where we’re going, visit the About Us page on the website.  You can even read our collecting, preservation and access policies in the Plans, Policies, Performance and Projects box.

… 7 (paid) student assistants have worked for us at the end of this summer.  They have diligently audited and listed our collections, moved boxes around and ticked off lots of jobs that we didn’t think we’d get to by the end of 2015, never mind 2014! They are magnificent!

… 6 new members of staff started work with us in 2014.  A majority of these are contract staff appointed as part of the HLF funding who will be working with us over the next two to three years.  They include two cataloguing archivists, two archives assistants, and two officers working on community learning and working with schools.

… 5 ways to search our new online catalogue at heritagequay.org.  New collections catalogues will be uploaded regularly from now on and you have the option to search by a title, date, reference number, person or place name.

… 4 new collections have come into the archive this year, in addition to the accruals to existing collections.  We have welcomed political collections including the Robert Blatchford and Duncan Scott collection, an additional rugby league archive in the form of the Mike Stephenson collection, and will shortly be welcoming the Mikron Theatre Archive.  We hope they will be joined by many more in 2015!

… 3 new repository spaces make up our new archival storage in Heritage Quay.  There is our main store, an outsize room for larger objects and a freezer rooms with, you guessed it, freezers to store some of the audio visual material in order to keep it cooler and more stable for a very long period of time.  If you’re interested in seeing our storerooms you can book on a public tour, or just peep through the portholes, built for that very purpose!

… 2 local societies have made Heritage Quay their base for the next year.  Whilst we’ve been welcoming a range of internal and external groups over the last few months, the Huddersfield Local History Society and Huddersfield & District Archaeological Societies have been attracting ever larger numbers of attendees.  Their programme of lectures are on their website, and are of course, open to the public!

And 1 big curvy screen!  It’s been the talk of the town, and from the youngest to the oldest visitors have been enjoying getting to grips with our collection highlights experience, lovingly known amongst us as ‘the big curvy screen’.  Objects can be selected by gesture, and items examined in close up or music samples played through the sound system to experience what the archive has to offer without having any particular research interest, as pieces are chosen from across the collections.

From all of us at Heritage Quay we wish you Happy Christmas and a prosperous 2015!  We hope it’ll be the year you come to visit us if you haven’t managed to already, and also the year that we can offer you many more exciting opportunities to get involved in using and enjoying archives!

In the meantime, as none of us can sing, we’ll leave our Chancellor to ‘sing’ us out with a festive little number: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2mBZFlteYRE

 

For the love of catalogues…

Cataloguing is rarely seen as a particularly glamorous or exciting part of working in an archive service, but it underpins a lot of what we do as a whole. Creating a good catalogue is one of the most enduring ways to make a collection usable to a wide range of audiences … if you can’t find something then you can’t use it!

A catalogue should be useful and usable to someone who is using an archive for the first time, and to a seasoned user who is an expert in their subject.

Making catalogues that work for experts and beginners alike is a challenge, but that is what we are working to achieve – so we are building catalogue structures that will be accessible electronically, that link to online sources of information like Wikipedia, and that are intuitive and easy to use.

It is very exciting to know that the cataloguing work that is going on now will enable many different people to use the archives here at the University of Huddersfield – if you’re reading this then hopefully you’ll be one of them!

Dust-pocolypse!

If you happened to be walking past the library seminar room last Monday and wondered if you were witnessing preparations to combat the Viking apocalypse Ragnarok, predicted to take place this Saturday, never fear, it was just the latest batch of Archive volunteers getting to grips with some archives in need of some basic preservation!

Whilst we keep archive collections in special repositories where temperature and humidity are controlled, we often inherit collections that have been ‘in storage’ with their creators.  Think about where your office or family keep their papers.  Attics, cellars, offsite storage.  In archives we’ve seen it all, and it usually comes complete with damp, pest damage and copious amounts of dust!! Little Britain might encourage it as an appetiser, but dust is certainly no good for your health.  Many of the old Huddersfield Technical College student registers have spent decades in storage before coming to the archive, and the folders were covered with a thick layer of the stuff.

volunteers

Our current batch of volunteers come from the History, Politics and the English department and some are volunteering as part of their course, others to see if a career in Archives might be for them. They will be helping us with a variety of tasks in the run up to the move to the new archives centre, and we’re very grateful for their help. Many archives nowadays rely on the support of enthusiastic volunteers, and we are no exception, although in return we hope to provide interesting and varied work and to involve people in the range of activities going on in a modern archives centre. All of our current volunteers were attending a Volunteer Induction Day, where we talked about how their work fitted in to our strategy map, introduced the Volunteer handbook and passed on some basic preservation skills using conservation equipment. Total folders cleaned by the end of Monday = 70! A fantastic achievement that makes a real contribution to the work the staff undertake in the archive every day.

We’ve worked hard to make sure that our volunteer opportunities fit in with ARA’s (Archives and Records Association – the professional body for archivists) policy on volunteering, and if you’re interested in finding out more about a career in Archives, the guidance on this page should be your first stop!