Digging for gold in our community collections…

Working with Explore’s diverse community collections is fantastic. We manage collections not only from local community groups, but from families, individuals and businesses too. No collection is the same, and that is what makes them so special.

What is even more exciting is when you come across an item in a collection that really stands out. Cataloguing a collection can be, admittedly, a fairly monotonous task but finding hidden gems is what makes it so exciting. It’s like we’re digging for gold, and when we find it we can’t wait to tell you all about it!

Showing off our community collections on our Pinterest board... https://www.pinterest.com/yorkexplore/

Showing off our community collections on our Pinterest board… https://www.pinterest.com/yorkexplore/

This blog post does exactly that. I’ve picked out some of my personal favourites from our community collections, and I hope you’ll see why!

Firstly, I’ll start with the Gray family newspapers (GRF/4/4/7). These special finds were mostly created by children of the Gray family, and include lovely colourful drawings that enhance stories of local and family news. What an adorable way of keeping the whole family in the loop! (Don’t forget- you can click on the images to see a larger version!)

Another ‘gem’ is the ‘first astronomical journal’ (GPP/3) found in the Goodricke and Piggott collection, which tells of exciting astronomical sightings! Detailed illustrations and diagrams have often been included to further explain the sightings, like this one below:

First Astronomical Journal (GPP/3)

First Astronomical Journal (GPP/3)

Find out more about the Goodricke and Piggott collection on Francesca’s blog post, or by checking out our online catalogue.

For an art-lover like me, the Knowles collection (KNO) is naturally one of my favourites. J. W. Knowles was a stained glass window manufacturer, and the collection contains lots of artwork for window designs, like those shown here:

Want to see more of our community collections highlights? We’ll be starting up a #voicesofthearchives Twitter campaign this week to get you talking about our beautiful community collections. Follow us on Twitter @YorkArchivesUK and keep an eye out for photos of collection highlights, and don’t forget to share your thoughts!

If you can’t wait until then- head over to our Pinterest page. Don’t forget- you can search for any of these items on our online catalogue and book into Explore’s Reading Room to take a look for yourself.

Popping into Poppleton’s History!

Calling all history-bods, archive boffins and Poppletonians! There’s a new display at Poppleton Library and you must go and see it!

Having fun setting up the Poppleton History Society display with Secretary, Julian Crabb

Having fun setting up the Poppleton History Society display with Secretary, Julian Crabb

I’ve recently been working with the Poppleton History Society (PHS) to create a display showcasing some items from their wonderful archive collection. Their collection first became publicly available in 2014 as part of Explore’s Gateway to History project, and is located in Poppleton Library.


PHS has been a thriving society since 1989 and publishes publications, holds social events such as their bi-annual banquets, and takes part in local archaeology.

For their first library display, PHS Secretary Julian and I decided to focus on the theme of ‘Recreation in Poppleton’, and have selected various records that demonstrate the huge range of recreational activities that the people of Poppleton have been and still are getting involved in. From tennis and football to socialising down by the river- they certainly know how to have fun! We’ve taken copies of original documents and used these for the display.

'Recreation in Poppleton: A display of the PHS archive collection'

‘Recreation in Poppleton: A display of the PHS archive’

Creating the exhibition alongside the Society’s Secretary, Julian, has been great fun, and it’s been lovely to explore their archive some more- previously knowing very little about it myself. Their collection consists of a huge range of material- from photographs and publicity to oral history recordings and transcriptions produced as part of their oral history project. If you’re a local Poppleton inhabitant looking for a starting point to conduct your local history research- then look no further! Poppleton History Society’s archive collection is fantastic, and you can find a box list of their items on the Explore website.

The PHS archive in Poppleton Library- open for public access!

The PHS archive in Poppleton Library- open for public access!

So what are you waiting for?! Head down to Poppleton Library and take a look for yourself!

Update: Explore’s Art Project!

Back in August, Sarah published a blog post telling you all about our exciting art installation that will soon be in place on the archives landing here at Explore. We thought it was about time we posted an update on this project that’s got all of us here at Explore on the edges of our seats!

Just to refresh your memories, the art installation is based on over 600 responses we have collected from you- the public- to the question ‘what should York remember?’. It will take the form of a panorama of York, titled ‘What York Means to us’. Inspired by the iconic city walls, the piece will be made up of individual bricks that each tell a story about life in York.

Emily's mock-up of the art installation, inspired by individual memories and the city walls.

Artist Emily Harvey’s mock-up of the art installation, inspired by individual memories and the city walls.

We thought we’d keep you posted on our progress and asked artist Emily Harvey to tell us how it’s going…

Emily busy creating the panels in her studio!

Emily busy creating the panels in her studio!

“The whole panel is sketched out in more detail now – I will keep adding and removing things as it progresses though! Once particular blocks are designed they start to take on a life of their own, and I know that some characters will pop up again in different scenes.

Here are pictures of some sketches and maquettes testing out the ideas:

Polo swimmers – lots of people talked about swimming and this block shows children having fun in the outdoor pool (sadly no longer there) with polo ‘lifesavers’ .

Learning to read – this image comes from a stained glass panel in All Saints Church in North St – a little girl is being taught to read 500 years ago, this picture will be combined with contemporary children and university students in York.

The white horse – you can see the white horse from high points in York and it is included in the panorama to show the landscape beyond the walls.

carriageworks plaster

The carriageworks – lot of people have memories of working here, this image is made from old spanners, bolts and other tools and other tools used in engineering.”

The final artwork will be installed at the end of November, so we’ll be keeping you updated until then. I’ve just updated the display boards on the landing here at Explore, so pop in and take a look! Don’t forget to keep your eyes and ears peeled for future updates!

Our newly-updated display boards on the landing where the art installation will be.

Our newly-updated display boards on the landing where the art installation will be- pop in and take a look!

Our new Community Collections Pinterest board: The highlights so far…

Over the past few weeks, the Explore team has been busy at the main library preparing the archive for when we open on the 5th of January. Me, Georgie and Sarah have been getting stuck into the Community Collections by organising, cataloguing and re-boxing them so that they can be easily navigated and used by everyone. Up until now, I have been doing this without actually seeing any of the archives themselves. But how? I hear you cry! Well thanks to the dedicated work of previous volunteers and archivists we have managed to use many of the existing lists to put entire collections on our CALM catalogue system, some of which will be searchable online when we reopen.

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Our York Conservative Association collection (YCA), re-boxed and ready to go!

Since we opened up our first archive box a few weeks back, I have finally been able to set eyes on our collections for the first time and it is amazing just how diverse and visually impressive they are in the flesh! You can see some of our favourite items that we have discovered so far on our new Community Collections Pinterest board.

Pinterest
One of my personal favourites has been the York and District Boy Scouts Association collection, chock full of amazing scrapbooks containing drawings, photographs and memories from scout life like outings, events and cuttings like this one.

Then there is the Yorkshire Musical Festival collection which contains beautifully printed tickets and programmes from the 19th Century as well as a list of what was worn by attendees of the Fancy Ball, which we tweeted about last week.

On top of this, another highlight has been our York Mystery Plays collection which contains stunningly painted set designs, costume sketchbooks and annotated scripts from the 1960s and 1970s. But this only scratches the surface!

Over the course of 2015, we will gradually be able to make more collections available for you to have a rummage through and hopefully make some amazing discoveries of your own.

Make sure you stay tuned to the Community Collections Pinterest board for more archive sneak peeks in the near future!

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.

Mezzanine

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!).

Shelving

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 (laura.yeoman@exploreyork.org.uk).

A new voice and a new service

It’s time for yet another new voice on the blog! I’m Laura, and as Justine hinted at in her last blog post I started work as the new Archives and Local History Public Services Manager on 7th April. Like Justine I have previously worked at the Borthwick Institute for Archives (University of York), and I’ve come back to York after nearly seven years in Edinburgh. It’s going to be my job to make sure that all the public services we offer run smoothly and that we provide visitors with the best possible experience. There’s a lot to organise, but I like a challenge!

Laura Yeoman

Me – Archives and Local History Public Services Manager

As well as introducing myself, it’s also my pleasure to introduce you to our new organisation – ‘Explore York Libraries and Archives’, or ‘Explore’ for short. Explore came into being on 1 May and is a staff-led social enterprise which will be running York’s libraries and archives under an initial five year contract from City of York Council. As a result we are now no longer part of the council, have charitable status and are led by a board of directors. We officially launched Explore with a reception (and cake!) in our Reading Café in Rowntree Park. You can find out more about Explore and what it means for our libraries and archives on the CYC website.

Explore launch cake

Turning a ‘new chapter’ with our launch cake

So, turning back to me, how have I spent my first month in post? Well, I’ve been doing a lot of induction work, including reading the Gateway to History project documents so that I’m up to speed on what the new public service should actually look like. I’ve seen a lot of new faces and new places, and despite the service currently being closed I’ve also had an opportunity to see some of the civic archives and get acquainted with the local history collections.

One of my first tasks in post is to create a temporary service for Archives and Local History, which will operate from one of our other libraries whilst York Explore is closed for the final phase of the building work. As a result, I’ve been out with my measuring tape and ended up drawing the room to scale to see how the furniture would fit. After many attempts with various designs, I am now happy I’ve got something that works. Over the next few weeks I’ll also be looking at getting the information we have on our website updated, and putting together a proposal for how we can get details of more of the local history collection onto the library catalogue. More on that in a future post.

One thing that has struck me over the last couple of weeks is just how amazing the Archives and Local History collections actually are, and how lucky we are to have them. I’m really looking forward to creating a new public service that befits the collection – it’s an exciting period in our history, and one that I’m really happy to be part of. Keep an eye on the blog over the coming months to see how things are progressing in the new world of Explore!

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