Less Process More Pictures!

My last few posts have been quite process-heavy, but now I’ve finished my initial research phase and moved on to looking at the material I’ll be able to blog more about individual records. However, you don’t have to wait for my posts to see lots of archive images because there is now a new (and free!) exhibition on display at Library Square.

The first exhibition panel – one of several in Library Square

If you live or work in York you may have spotted that new display panels have appeared both inside and outside York Explore Library Learning Centre. These panels are part of an exhibition celebrating York 800 and the diversity of the archive collections that the City holds.

The great thing about this exhibition is that the content has been selected, researched and written not by archive staff but by a team of 12 volunteers – many of which have never used original archive material before. Working in three teams over six months, the volunteers identified documents and images and wrote the text to interpret it for others. The panels cover three themes, Medieval York, Modern York and the York Mystery Plays which are currently being performed just round the corner in Museum Gardens.

Internal display panels amongst sofas and bookcases

One of the freestanding displays – unmissable in the middle of the library

The exhibition is displayed in a set of beautiful new wooden display panels that were commissioned from a local carpenter’s workshop and funded by Yorventure. They are an investment for the future and will be used for many years to come, enabling us for the first time to put on high-quality exhibitions, and to bring archive content and services at York Explore onto the ground floor in order to reach a wider audience.

People having lunch outside the library, reading the panels

The panels have already attracted the attention of picnic-ers and add a splash of colour to Library Square

The graphic design was also commissioned from a local specialist. He has put together a video which gives a taster of how the exhibition looks, perfect for those of you not based in York or unable to pop in. Look out for Victoria Hoyle in the white dress and pink cardigan, Civic Archivist, who masterminded both the exhibition and the wider City Making History project.

One of the purposes of the exhibition was to showcase the archive collections to library visitors and people passing outside, who might not otherwise have found out about the material. One visitor has already made a discovery – seeing her grandma’s name in a nineteenth-century record shown on one of the pictures, and has contacted us to find out more!

The exhibition will run until late September, as a part of York 800, and can be seen seven days a week. It ties in with the cataloguing project as a taster of how rich the collections are and demonstrates perfectly how anyone can engage with and use the collections – not just specialists or academics.

Credits and acknowlegments of those involved

Many thanks to all those involved – especially the volunteers who contributed their time and put together such an engaging display.