Stocktaking at the archive

Regular visitors to the BPMA’s search room will notice that we have been closed for ‘stock take’ since the start of last week and won’t be reopening until next Monday, 24th January.

Why does the BPMA close for stock take and what happens during this period? Stock take gives BPMA staff both the time and almost as importantly the space to concentrate on large sorting or repackaging tasks that would be very difficult to progress otherwise. Up until this year stock take has taken place for two weeks in December; this year we’ve moved it to January but we’re always open to suggestions as to the most sensible time to hold it and haven’t decided for certain when to schedule it into 2012.

Re-housing film stills and checking duplicate posters

Re-housing film stills and checking duplicate posters.

It involves almost all the archivists among the BPMA’s staff, both in the archive and records management and cataloguing teams (about ten staff in all), working on a number of projects.

What tasks have we been doing? This year’s stock take has concentrated on three main activities: the sorting of Second Review registered files from the 1970s and 1980s into an order that reflects the alpha-numeric code on them prior to cataloguing this material; the repackaging of POST 118 film stills into appropriate preservation housing; listing the contents of boxes from the old National Postal Museum library to fill gaps in the BPMA Library and identify duplicates and redundant material. We have also been sorting and identifying duplicate posters, weeding ‘portfolio’ files (files of secondary non-archive information on various subjects held in the search room), taking photographs of large plans using a rostrum camera and a couple of activities involving our philatelic material.

Photographing a large rolled building plan using a rostrum camera.

Photographing a large rolled building plan using a rostrum camera.

One major benefit of many of these activities is that they will create some badly needed space in our very full repository. They should also speed up the process by which we can make archival material available to the public. So far the activities have been going well though as expected they are taking plenty of time and will generally not be complete at the end of the two weeks.

To anyone who has had to postpone a visit to the search room thank you for your patience and we hope you’ll appreciate the importance of this work.

The BPMA Search Room has new opening times in 2011. In response to a survey carried out in 2010 we will be increasing our Saturday openings to one a month. In order to staff our Saturday openings adequately we will be closed on the Mondays following our Saturday openings. Our next Saturday opening will be 12th February. Full details of our new opening hours  can be found our website.

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