How to preserve your family or community archive: the Collection Care Covid-19 lockdown blogs. Blog CC #16

  • Thinking about making copies of items/collections?
  • Keen to save time and avoid damaging originals?
  • Want to know how best to prepare?

Making copies of fragile or popular items reduces handling and the risk of physical damage, the number one cause of deterioration in archives (see blog CC#4 on causes of damage to archives.)

It’s good to keep an eye on how often items are used so you can see which ones are most at risk of damage.  Keeping a note with your catalogue or list is a great way to do it – even a simple ‘five bar gate’ tally will do.

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How to preserve your family or community archive: the Collection Care Covid-19 lockdown blogs. Blog CC #13

  • Want to be prepared in case things go wrong?
  • Like to be able to sort out problems fast?

“I have never been in an accident of any sort and have never been wrecked, nor was I ever in any predicament that threatened to end in disaster of any sort”  E J Smith (SS Titanic)

It can happen to anyone! The best thing we can do is be prepared just in case!

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How to preserve your family or community archive: the Collection Care Covid-19 lockdown blogs. Blog CC #12

  • Want to avoid uninvited guests eating your collection!?
  • Keen to make sure the surrounding environment is safe for archives?

Let me introduce you to our silverfish, a Grey Silverfish (ctenolepisma longicaudata).  They are fairly new to the UK, and this is the first one we have found.  We will be keeping the traps out and our eyes peeled just in case he has brought friends and relatives!  They are more tolerant of dry conditions than regular silverfish.

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How to preserve your family or community archive: the Covid-19 lockdown blogs. Blog CM #5

  • Need to list your archive collections?
  • Want to learn more about cataloguing archives?

The documentation you create when you take in (“accession”) new material should include a brief description of each batch of material you’ve received (see blog CM #2).  But you will probably also want to list in more detail (or “catalogue”) the material in your personal or community archive.  As well as being very useful for you, catalogues can be shared, for example via a website, so that other people can see what material you have.

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One of our volunteers sent this lovely feedback….

I’m everyone’s volunteer. In normal times I would be dashing between Gloucester Cathedral, Berkeley Castle, Cheltenham College, Cobalt and of course Gloucestershire Archives. I like to use my brain to do something potentially useful, I like learning new things, meeting people with the same interests and chatting to fellow volunteers, friends I have made over the years. All that stopped with lockdown.

John Humphris’ probate inventory, 1690, mentioning the hogs (see below)
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Cataloguing the Stanley Gardiner photographic collection: the volunteers’ story (by Camilla Boon and Roger Carnt).

Sitting in fourteen boxes in a refrigerated strong room at Gloucestershire Archives, Stanley Gardiner’s collection of over 5,500 old images of views, events and people in and around Stroud’s Five Valleys  was an obvious goldmine for anyone interested in local history. The problem was that the collection was uncatalogued. The wrong choice of box number might bring you traction engines, not images of Rodborough, and heaven help you if you were just hoping for something on Edwardian farming!

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How to preserve your family or community archive: the Covid-19 lockdown blogs. Blog CM #4

  • Want to learn more about data protection?
  • Need to understand how it relates to your community collection?

In blog CM #2, we noted that the process of ‘accessioning” new material into your collection presents an ideal opportunity to consider whether the records you are offered present any issues in terms of copyright and access. We’ve looked in more detail at copyright (blog CM #3).  Now we’ll take a closer look at access- in particular the requirements of the Data Protection Act and “GDPR”.

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How to preserve your family or community archive: the Covid-19 lockdown blogs. Blog DP #1

  • Are all your treasured family photos digital?
  • Does your community archive include CDs and scans?

Digital documents can be easily shared and copied, and take up no physical space.  But the very characteristics which make them so convenient also present us with risks and challenges.  There is no single, magic bullet solution which can protect your digital material or ensure it will last for decades.  But the good news is that there some simple, low tech, no/low cost steps you can take to manage and minimise the risks.

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