Diocese of London faculties
London Metropolitan Archives (LMA) had its usual two weeks of Annual Closure at the beginning of November – a period when staff can get on with special projects, work in different teams, and do some vital behind the scenes activities. Charlotte Scott, Assistant Director (Collections) gives an overview of what happened in 2016.
Space and how we use it, is something we spend a lot of time thinking about, managing and trying to make more of at LMA. During Annual Closure 2016 the Collections team were delighted to have some more 'spreading space' to tackle a long standing job of sorting and repackaging Diocese of London faculties. Faculties are the authorisations given by a Church of England diocese to a church which wants to carry out any physical changes to its building or churchyard, and LMA has thousands of these for the Dioceses of London and Southwark. For the Diocese of London we knew that the archive boxes were very full and some files were out of order. So a team sorted, labelled and re-boxed some 3,000 faculties from the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, taking over the Archive Study Area (ASA) for 2 weeks. These files are now more accessible for users. The job isn’t yet finished, but more will be done in coming months (but not in the ASA!)
There is always a lot of activity in LMA's strong rooms during Annual Closure, particularly in improving the location index to our archives. This year a team surveyed some 41,000 volumes from across the collections with the aim of ensuring everything is where it should be and all sizes are properly recorded. Knowing the correct size of an item, whether it is a box, a volume, or anything else is also very important when you locate items by format. Some of our archives are more difficult to handle and to move than others and another team, very, very carefully, moved some 18 linear metres of glass plate negatives to a new location. All our archives have their own individual entries in our location index and so any moves mean we must edit the database afterwards - over 18,000 alterations were made during Annual Closure 2016.
With the reboot of our Collage: The London Picture Archive website in July 2016 this has been a year when we have made available more of our extraordinary collections of images of London than ever before. During Annual Closure we continued to subject tag Collage. Work was also done on tidying up our boxes of playbills and theatre programmes for a possible future volunteer project, and we checked and numbered plans for Christ's Hospital and St. Paul's Cathedral.
The LMAconservation team always do a major tidy and 'spring clean' of their studio during Annual Closure. This year they also worked on our salvage room, a place we hope not to have to use, but like to know it is sitting there ready for us, just in case… The room has now had a good tidy, and all its equipment is ready for use. Members of the team also joined with some Services Assistants in cleaning Victorian archive volumes; we are gradually cleaning and repackaging these in bespoke archive boxes which will keep them much cleaner and better protected. This is a very long, on-going programme as we have many thousands of these red rot affected books.
Another 'painting the Forth Bridge' task is printing and reprinting archive lists for the Information Area. This year we tackled the London County Council school lists (LCC/EO/DIV01-04) as the old lists were quite out of date. We will finish divisions 5-9 over the next few months! We continued to work on editing and reissuing our information guides and are looking at how we can reuse information about our collections we have consolidated for staff over the last decade into something which can be shared with the wider world.
Some activities carry on uninterrupted over the Annual Closure fortnight - enquiry work; reprographic orders; planning for events; putting away and producing archives for staff; funded projects for conservation, cataloguing and learning. In 2016 we were very busy with projects funded by the National Manuscripts Conservation Trust, the Wellcome Trust, the Rothschild Foundation (Hanadiv) Europe in the conservation studio; and in the Collections team, a Wellcome Trust funded cataloguing project was well under way and a new Rothschild project just beginning. The records management service for the City of London departments at Guildhall continued as usual.
The City of London had a major de-cluttering initiative over the summer and autumn and we think we have done our bit towards this with a thorough tidy up and clean of public and office areas (including our desks). IT drives were also purged of out of date documents.
Annual Closure 2016 was a very busy, productive and (for some people) dusty period – a big thank you to everyone involved!
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