This difference in approach partly reflects an emphasis in library practice on the informational value of resources (hence the desire for complete sets) in contrast to an archive focus on the evidential value of records, so that single booklets and newsletters may be retained if they have a direct relationship with other records. The ‘New Compass’ for instance exists in the Banner Collection only because single copies were used as research material for a community theatre project undertaken in Acocks Green.
For many researchers however, such professional differences are not immediately relevant and in practice archivists and librarians respect both informational and evidential value. Researchers frequently use library and archive resources interchangeably, often using a range of resources together. For instance, an additional dimension is given to the Shard End Star’s advertisements for local businesses by reference to photographic prints, as with this view of the Heath Way Shopping Centre in the early 1960s [BCC P & A 1999/077 9/25].As well as providing a gauge of local commercial activity, pamphlets and newsletters can be a rich mine of information about community events, concerns and politics. Stirchley Methodist Church issued a handbook for the 1911 Grand Spring Bazaar, which promoted the ‘marvellous sweet music’ to be provided ‘on Saturday’ by the local Co-operative Choral Society [MC 74/B/6/1]. The ‘Baby Week Magazine’ published in 1919 by Stirchley and Cotteridge School for Mothers provided useful information relating to the care, health and welfare of babies and children, together with the rousing message that ‘Nations are gathered out of nurseries’ [MS 2032/2]. Booklets and newsletters have been very helpful in providing both evidence of the existence of local photographic businesses and information about their activities where such details are not otherwise available. So for instance, Strichley Carnival Magazine shows Sylvia Whiteway practicing as a professional photographer on the Pershore Road in the late 1930s [EP 107/17/7]. The New Compass for February 1973 asks ‘Why Pay for Kodacolor Film?’ in an advertisement for E. Glaser of Hall Green which highlights the penetration of colour processing agents to suburban areas by the early 1970s [MS 1611/B/11/14]. All in all, newsletters and pamphlets are valuable research tools regardless of the original reason for their presence in the Library of Birmingham.
Jim Ranahan 01/05/2014