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Sorting the library shelves during Annual Closure 2017

​Library shelves

This two-week period in November is a time to undertake building works and projects which help the LMA archive service run smoothly for the rest of the year. Tim Harris, Head of Access and Buildings at LMA, summarises this year’s activities.

This year the main public staircase was decorated (and yes, we did take the exhibition down rather than paint around the items) so there should be an immediate impact on entering the building.

The new catalogue front-end was completed during the Annual Closure period which is a fantastic new resource and route into the catalogue. But this doesn’t happen overnight or by accident. A lot of painstaking work goes into the refinement of the catalogue, week in week out. During the fortnight a considerable number of Catalogue entries (over 2000) for Boards of Guardians collections were ‘unblocked’ into individual entries, and hundreds of Collage data entries were edited and improved.

Repository planning work is essential to keep the most used documents in more accessible locations and to ensure collections are kept in appropriate format-specific environmental conditions. Over 600 boxes were transferred between Guildhall and LMA.

London Residuary Body (LRB) financial grant files have been sorted and weeded, there were over 1800 of them and this led to the creation of 40 linear metres of additional shelf space. All LRB paper lists have been updated. Some of this space was immediately taken up with an additional accession of 12 boxes of archives relating to the history of LMA and its predecessors including papers on ground-breaking early interpretation and educational work, leaflets and brochures, photographs of building development and occasional pictures of bearded archivists.

To keep in touch with their cataloguing side, members of the management team take to cataloguing Coroners files during Annual Closure which included (for 1973) 118 files for victims of the Staines air crash, the worst air accident in UK history apart from Lockerbie. These files are closed, and access is though the Coroner, although details of the cases are all discoverable through public media sources.

Archive volumes come in all shapes and sizes and when we come to move volumes it is important to know exact dimensions so we can make best use of shelves. Members of the Digital Services team went beyond their normal studio environment to survey over 2000 archive volumes, joined by the Document Production team who also did survey work on Building Act Case Files (over 200 repackaged into boxes), rolled documents (360 rolls and 66 boxes of rolls) and a stocktake of over a thousand microfilms in the public rooms.

Library books come in slightly less diverse sizes, but are located at multiple places around the building due to the way additional material had been added to the LMA (former LCC/GLC Members’ Library) via the former Corporation of London Records Office and Guildhall Library Manuscripts Section. A major project is being undertaken to rationalise the location of the LMA library volumes. This will mean smoother production of printed library books and we have also taken the opportunity to fill out the shelves in the Information Area. So next time you visit LMA check out the library shelves, there are over 50 more shelves worth of carefully selected volumes on open access.

Behind the scenes our main office area (complete with 58 desks) had a deep clean of the carpet and surfaces thereby removing an accumulation of dust, dirt and stains. Adjustments to work stations and team locations were made at the same time to accommodate the various digital transformation changes which means that most staff have now moved from using a fixed PC to laptop and docking station. This allows greater flexibility in where people can work around LMA.

At the same time the telephone enquiry base has moved offices and floors to a quieter area and the LMA-based Social Worker has also moved to an adjacent new private office to allow for more confidential enquiries to be dealt with appropriately.

Annual Closure means collaboration between teams, often in unfamiliar parts of the building, which helps staff understand how other teams work and why systems are needed to maintain effective administration of the collections. At the same time, other staff were continuing to answer enquiries, run records management for the City of London Corporation, work on customer reprographic orders and keep on track with externally funded projects. A big thank you to everyone involved.

Published:
03 January 2018
Last Modified:
10 January 2018

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