Tag Archives: Wolfson Centre for Archival Research

Wolfson Centre for Archival Research: closed weeks

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.

Inside our archive storage areas

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.

Collections work

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.


Corinna Rayner
Archives & Collections Manager
Library of Birmingham


Birmingham Archives & Collections: New Opening Hours

First of all I want to say thank you to everyone who took part in the consultation we ran during September and October about the opening hours of the Wolfson Centre for Archival Research here in the Library of Birmingham.

We had an amazing response, with so many of you getting in touch via email, in person, and via social media, with responses from a wide range of customers from our weekly visiting local, subject, and family historians, from those who travel a distance, from depositors, from academics, from community groups, and from students, and we are very grateful, too, to those who ensured that our consultation was seen by as many people as possible through their re-posting of the blog piece and the flurries of retweeting that went on. What’s more, we understand from your comments that this change in opening hours is not what many of you would wish for the service, but your understanding of the challenges we are presently encountering, and your sincere concerns for the service and the collections, was evident in the many supportive comments that accompanied the responses you sent in.

From this positive and constructive feedback there was a clear preference in terms of which opening hours option to go for – with 70% of you going for option 3. You can see what these options were here.

Below is a breakdown of the preferences for the three options:

Option 1 Option 2 Option 3 No option selected
17% 12% 70% 1%

56% of you responded via our online consultation, and 44% of you responded using the paper copy version.

So, the new opening hours will come into effect on the week beginning the 16th November, from which point we will be open 3 days per week, with one late night per week, and one Saturday every 4 weeks (so open 4 days on those weeks), as follows:

Tuesday:  11am – 7pm
Wednesday: 11am – 4:30pm
Thursday:  11am – 4:30pm
Saturday (1 in 4): 11am – 4pm

Our Saturday openings will be:

12th December 2015Wolfon Centre
9th January 2016
6th February 2016
5th March 2016
2nd April 2016
30th April 2016
28th May 2016
18th June 2016
23rd July 2016
20th August 2016
17th September 2016
15th October 2016
12th November 2016
10th December 2016

The one caveat to these opening hours, is that on Tuesday the 17th November we’re having our Explore Archives pop-up exhibition, so appointment bookings will be taken until 4pm in the Wolfson Centre, with the event starting at 4:30 – please do come a long and take a look! You can read more about it here.

I know I promised that my second blog would be an interesting one involving something from the collections, and this isn’t it! So, I’ll aim for something in my 3rd blog!

Thanks again for all your support.

Corinna Rayner
Archives & Collections Manager

Birmingham Archives, Heritage & Photography Public Consultation

Well my first blog for the Iron Room has certainly been a long time coming! And what am I doing? Asking for your help! I will endeavour to do another blog very soon, and make it one that talks about something very special in the collections… you’ll just have to wait and see!

As many of you will know, the Library of Birmingham has undergone some significant changes over the last few months, and in response to those changes we have had to address the way we offer our services because we can no longer do everything we used to do in the way we used to do it.

As such we in the Archives, Heritage & Photography department have been working hard to review what we have offered, and to develop a future service offer that takes into account the challenges facing the Library of Birmingham as a whole. As part of this we are looking at how we deliver services, and at the moment we want to consult with you, our customers and stakeholders, to get your views and achieve the best possible outcome with one particular aspect.

As part of our response to the challenges, the Archives, Heritage & Photography service has, through the recent staffing restructure, been consolidated into one service area operating two public counters on level 4 of the Library of Birmingham: the open access counter in the Heritage Research Area (HRA) and the supervised research room (the Wolfson Centre for Archival Research) where original and rare documents and publications are served.

Just some examples of items from the Early & Fine Printing Colletion that we look after in AHP.

Just some examples of items from the Early & Fine Printing Collection that we look after in AHP.

Since our focus is on developing a long-term sustainable service for our customers and stakeholders that is both fit for the future and is feasible with our present resources, the Archives, Heritage & Photography service area as a whole will remain open for the same opening hours as the rest of the Library of Birmingham.  However, we do not have the capacity to operate both the HRA counter and the Wolfson Centre counter for all of those opening hours, or indeed the opening hours we have had for the Wolfson Centre until now, and this consultation is about which Wolfson Centre opening hours best suit our customers.

Please download the consultation document here and return it to us with your views to the address at the bottom of the page.

You can also complete our online survey to have your say.

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