What have we been up to? Stocktaking 2012

We have just re-opened after our two week annual stocktaking closure where we take the opportunity to do all the jobs which we cannot do while we are open to the public.

Stocktaking gives us an opportunity to sort out large accessions, carry out large re-boxing projects, and reorganise shelving to make the most of our storage space.

Hard at work in the Conservation Studio re-storing medieval deeds

Hard at work in the Conservation Studio re-storing medieval deeds

One of the big projects undertaken during stocktaking was begining the re-storing of hundreds of medieval deeds. The deeds were stored in boxes arranged a bit like filing cabinets, hanging in plastic folders. A huge amount of effort must have been put into storing them like this a few decades ago, but the boxes had deteriorated and the ‘filing cabinet’ system had collapsed in most of the boxes.

Medieval deeds stored in a 'filing cabinet' box

Medieval deeds stored in a ‘filing cabinet’ box. The plastic folders collapse, and damage the deeds inside.

The deeds have now been stored in custom designed ‘Harris folders’ (named after one of our archive assistants!) which are wedge shaped to allow space for the seals at the bottom of the documents. The deeds are held in place on a board using thin strips of melinex (a special acid-free plastic), and then placed in the wedge folders, before being placed in acid free archival boxes. This means that the documents are going to be much happier in their new storage, and they are easier for the staff to find and produce.

Storing deeds in 'Harris' folders

Storing deeds in ‘Harris’ folders. These are wedge shaped to protect the seals attached to the documents.

Much of the work that we do during stocktaking involves re-boxing documents. This means removing documents from old cardboard boxes, which over time become acidic and eat away at the documents inside, and placing them in new, acid-free cardboard boxes made especially for archives. These boxes are also designed to fit perfectly on our shelves, making the best use of the available space. The boxes arrive flat packed, and we have made up around 500 of them!

Look how many boxes we made!

Look how many boxes we made!

Putting documents into special acid free boxes

Putting documents into special acid free boxes

Some outgoing old storage containers, replaced with specialist archival materials

Some outgoing old storage containers, replaced with specialist archival materials

This year’s stocktaking also saw the exciting replacement of one of our Searchroom windows. Regular users have probably noticed that a crack in one of the large glass panels had grown much more serious recently, and before it became a hazard the window has been replaced. Installing the new window was quite a feat to watch!

Installing the new window in the Searchroom

Installing the new window in the Searchroom

We have also made some minor alterations to the Searchroom, and given everything a good clean and tidy up.

Thankyou all for bearing with us while we get these important jobs done.

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