Tag Archives: Closed week

Closed Week Update

During our closed week in December 2017, we were very busy indeed working on adding material to the Archives collections (accessioning!)… and to give you flavour of the material we have taken in, we thought we’d highlight a few!

MS 4881 (2017/026), Stories & Games: A documentary on Bangladeshi urban and rural heritage, 2017. This is a documentary DVD containing a video of the games events and the oral history interviews of members of the local community both in English and Bengali. The Bengali interviews have been transcribed, and English subtitles appear on the video.

Image provided by New Hope Birmingham.


SF Additional (2017/027), Minutes and essays of the Friends Essay Society, 19th – 20th cent. The Friends Essay Society was a group of members of the Religious Society of Friends who met at each other’s houses one evening a month to read out essays which they had previously written anonymously, either on a subject given to them or, more often, on a subject of their own choice. The evening started with tea, and after each member had read aloud someone else’s essay, they had supper. You can see the catalogue for this material online here.

And here’s a fabulous box that the collection came in…


MS 4924 (2017/057), Membership register of the Birmingham and Midland Hairdressers’ Academy and Philanthropic Society, 1892-1927. We rather liked this – it is the only item we have relating to this organisation though – so we don’t know very much about it!



MS 4907 (2017/058), Handsworth Ladies Shakespeare Reading Society, 1884-2008. The Handsworth Shakespeare Reading Society began in 1880 when a group of ladies in Handsworth Wood decided to meet regularly in each other’s houses. The society had a list of rules by 1887. The group was for women only and new members were recruited by personal invitation. Meetings were devoted to reading plays by Shakespeare and other authors. It continued to hold meetings during the First and Second World Wars, however the number of meetings dropped to four meetings during the First World War and meetings were suspended during the winter months of the Second World War. Continue reading


Birmingham Archives & Collections. What we got up to…

We thought we’d update you on want we got up to during our closed week at the end of April!

One of our two accessioning days in the Wolfson Centre for Archival Research

For the first time since moving to the Library of Birmingham in 2013, we have had the opportunity to concentrate our efforts on a piece of labour intensive, repetitive, yet incredibly beneficial work… namely, stock checking (surveying) the archives collections in our strong rooms!

The team spent 90 hours surveying the collections, and managed to cover 1528 shelves – that’s about 3 and half minutes per shelf! They updated some 590 location records, which in the long-term means we will be more efficient at retrieving material for you!

Library of Birmingham Archives & Collections staff surveying locations in strong rooms

So what are the benefits of undertaking this work?

Well naturally, more efficient retrieval for when you order material to look at in the reading room, but also  better use of space by storing items in more efficient configurations and uniting collections that have historically been stored separately (we did some shifting around). The work undertaken has also informed our thoughts about how we record locations on our collections management system to make them more accurate and our retrieval times swifter.

Over the course of the week, and in addition to the team surveying collections in the strong rooms, we worked on staff development through shadowing activity and group training sessions, such as a webinar run by The National Archives! The scene pictured below features half of the Archives & Collections team attending a webinar about Digital Preservation – a significant issue facing all archives services in this modern digital age.

Archives & Collections staff “attending” a webinar about digital preservation run by TNA

During the week we were able to spend two days on accessions, which also involved training in the form of shadowing for one of our Senior Archives & Collection Assistants, who spent some time getting to grips with and documenting a collection of deeds that had just come in!

Adding deeds to the collections on one of our ‘Accessioning Days’

We plan to carry out similar activities later on this year and in years to come, and as such have scheduled in further closed weeks. To minimise disruption to the service, we have used our visitor statistics kept since the opening of the Library of Birmingham in September 2013 to choose the quietest weeks. The closed weeks then for 2017/18 will be as follows:

w/b 4th September, reopening on Tuesday 12th September

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 on the same floor 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. Thank you for your continued support, enabling us to utilise such opportunities to make these collections more open and available to everyone who wishes to use them.

Corinna Rayner
Archives & Collections Manager
Library of Birmingham