Alexandra Anderson, Collections Assistant, and Karen Mee, Reading Room Services Supervisor, recap all our achievements from this year’s Action Week.
Back in August, Special Collections closed for our annual Action Week. The aim of Action Week is to improve our space and collections so that our material is even more accessible to students, researchers and members of the public, whilst also addressing the conservation and storage issues that we wouldn’t otherwise be able to tackle during a normal working week.
This year we undertook a multitude of tasks.
We consolidated a lot of our space in the stacks, including our Icelandic and Read Collections in order to free up some shelf space. We reshelved some of our Southbank Show material that has just recently been digitised in an alumni funded project. A big move of our ceramics collection also took place, and not to mention lots of furniture changes in our Reading Room!
Other tasks revolved around conservation needs. All week we had a team in the Reading Room working on our project to conserve the Phillips of Hitchin Collection, funded by the National Manuscripts Conservation Trust. We completed cleaning of approximately 14 archive boxes of correspondence and invoices relating to the acquisition and sale of artworks. We were also able to work on the installation of our newest temporary exhibition Goodbye to all that? Legacies of the First World War. We had a reorganization of our Conservation Studio and packaging supplies.
Action Week tasks also aimed to make our collections more accessible to researchers. We had a fantastic time doing some coin documentation, where we got the opportunity to interrogate Simon, our Numismatics Project Officer, about his incredible knowledge of coins and their intriguing history. We added about 2,800 security tickets throughout the collection, completed the preparation of 500 East Asian coins for import into EMu, and created 150 basic records for Roman Provincial coins.
We also updated the locations for 60 volumes of our Godfrey Bingley Photographic Archive . We audited the locations of approximately 1000 objects from our Liddle Collection. In addition, we did some extensive work on organizing our Anthony Thwaite correspondence, with over 21 archival boxes sorted.
Not only is Action Week great for our collections, it’s also great for the team. We get the opportunity to work with material that we may not encounter in our day-to-day roles, and we interact with other members of staff who we normally may not get the chance to work with. Everyone brings in cakes and biscuits for our morning and afternoon team breaks, which fortunately allows us to get through our week buzzing with sugar.
Action Week is that time of year when we embrace getting grubby, eat lots of cake and get the opportunity to do work behind the scenes in order to make our collections even better.
The best Action Week task was of course the feeling of a job well done… and our celebratory/medicinal drinks at the pub at the end of the week!