It’s another practicalities blog from me I’m afraid. One day I will write one about something interesting in the Archives, or perhaps from our Early & Fine Printing Collection… But, for now it will have to be a blog about closed weeks for the Wolfson Centre (the Archives & Collections reading room).
Here at Birmingham Archives & Collections in the Library of Birmingham, we care for over 6,000 collections dating from the 12th to the 21st century, as well as significant photography collections, the Shakespeare Collection, and a fantastic Early and Fine Printing collection, which we store on more than 12 miles of shelving.
Our collections continue to grow and we acquire up to 250 new collections each year. In order to do the collections justice and make them as accessible as we possibly can for you, we occasionally need to be able to focus our staff and resources on collections tasks which can’t happen during our normal open weeks.
Our small team operates two busy public counters over six days per week offering a variety of services to our customers, as well as answering over 250 formal enquiries per month, preparing and delivering engagement activities, whilst also ensuring that our collections remain safe and well cared for.
Many archive services across the country use closed weeks to undertake pieces of work that they are unable to accomplish whilst they are open, and we are going to try this too. We already close during the week between Christmas and New Year, but as of 2017 we will be closing a further two weeks each year.
During this time, staff from across the team will be working together on collections development and preservation activities. This will improve the documentation and access to the collections we look after for you. As such, we hope to keep you updated about what we are up to during these weeks via our blogs so that you can see what we’re up to and how we’re doing!
What weeks will we be closed?
We have used our visitor statistics kept since the opening of the Library of Birmingham in September 2013 to choose the quietest weeks to minimise disruption to our service. The closed weeks then for 2017/18 will be as follows:
w/b 24th April, reopening on Tuesday 2nd May 2017
w/b 4th September, reopening on Tuesday 12th September 2017
w/b 25th December, reopening on Tuesday 2nd January 2018
During these weeks the Wolfson Centre for Archival Research will close, but the Heritage Research Area counter will remain open. You will still be able to talk to knowledgeable staff about the collections we hold, identify material you wish to consult and make appointments to consult that material.
All the team at Archives & Collections are proud that we are able to continue to collect and make accessible cultural and heritage collections that are representative and reflective of our city and its population. We are excited about the opportunities that having this extra time will afford us and the ways we can use it to continue to care for and make these collections more open and available to everyone who wishes to use them.
Thanks as always for your continued support and understanding.
Archives & Collections Manager
Library of Birmingham