Annual stocktaking week

During 16-19 December 2014, we held our annual stocktaking week. This is when we provide a limited service in the searchroom to free up as many staff as possible to work in the strongrooms. We use the time to improve the storage of the collections we have, and to assess and identify material we don’t need to keep permanently.

We would like to thank all our customers for their understanding while our service was restricted to enable us to get on with all of this!

Why do you need to have a stocktake? Don’t you do all these things every day anyway?

Yes and no! We try to keep on top of material coming in and only select what we need to keep, and to store it as efficiently as possible. But we don’t always have time do this, especially when a big collection comes in. So stocktaking week is the ideal opportunity to tackle the things we haven’t had chance to do before.

What sort of things do you do during stocktake?

We target collections whose storage could be improved, and collections which need appraisal to weed out the material we don’t need to keep. Working in teams we tackle as much as we can in the week.

Examples include building control and planning records, where we don’t need to keep paperwork for routine applications because the district councils keep copies of everything for reference purposes. Our purpose with these records is to provide a picture of what sort of building and planning work was going on at any given time.

We are still working to rationalise our holdings of local publications following on from the relocation of the Gloucestershire Collection here in 2005, because quite often the archives and local studies services were collecting the same things. This is a very long job indeed!

We are also appraising, cataloguing and re-packaging Gloucestershire County Council’s own extensive archive to make it more accessible. In the past it hasn’t always been possible to decide what to keep when the material first came to us, partly because of the volume of material and partly because it isn’t always easy to see straight away what will be significant in the future. We are also conscious that the collection isn’t stored very efficiently.

Packaged archives on shelves.

IMG_1877 web

Boxes on shelves.

Before, during and after the reboxing work on the County Council archive.

How do you measure what you’ve achieved?

We keep a count of box spaces freed up by disposal, and by reboxing. We use our ‘standard box’ to indicate a box space. A ‘standard box’ looks like this:

Standard size boxand fits 20 to a bay of shelving like this. IMG_1870 web




We also use lots of other different-sized boxes to take into account the many different sizes of the documents we keep (you can see some in the ‘after’ picture of the County Council records above) – but we measure all our space in terms of ‘standard boxes’ to make it easier to report statistics!

So how did you get on this week?

Very well! In total, we freed up 417 box spaces for new material to come in – this is equivalent to our target for the whole financial year! Of those 417 spaces, 79 were freed up by re-boxing and re-shelving, and 338 by identifying and disposing of material that doesn’t need to be kept permanently.

This included:

  • 26 boxes of Gloucester City building control records listed, and 11 spaces freed up by disposing of records we don’t need to keep
  • 186 individual plans from North Cotswold Rural District Council building control records listed ready to add to our online catalogue
  • 69 box spaces freed up by re-boxing using more appropriately sized boxes, including 57 box spaces from the County Council’s own archive
  • 28 box spaces freed up in our specialist photographic strongroom by re-packaging items
  • 58 boxes of material from the County Council archive disposed of as it doesn’t need to be kept permanently
  • 234 box spaces freed up by rationalising Local and Family History publications
  • stock-checking parts of the Local and Family History collection

Have you finished?

Sadly, no! There is still a lot to do – but that’s part of the nature of archives, they grow and change as time goes on. And until our For the Record project is completed and we have our new strongrooms (due in 2020), we are going to have to be very careful indeed with the space we have left, because we’re very nearly full. So we’re already planning another stocktaking week in December 2015!

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