Hi folks, it’s Glennie here!
As it is International Archives Day, I was invited to spend some time at Ayrshire Archives HQ and find out a little more about what archivists do on a daily basis. Although we only tend to see what goes on in the searchroom, there is a lot that happens behind the scenes too. Not only do staff regularly take a range of enquiries about the records from researchers and monitor the searchroom, but they are constantly working on the collections they hold to make them more accessible to the public.
You may have noticed that some Ayrshire burgh catalogues have been making their way onto the Ayrshire Archives website. One of the archivists is in the process of re-cataloguing the Ayr Burgh records and has given me a task to help out with! I am helping to accession this volume which originally belonged to the Ayr Fire Brigade.
When items are transferred to the archives, they firstly become known as accessions and are given an accession number and description. This confirms what the items are and that they have been transferred and stored in a repository. It is a process which takes place before records can be inserted and displayed in a catalogue. Before I accession this volume, I am gently giving it a clean with a special smoke sponge. This allows for the dry cleaning of the book in order to remove any dirt or dust it has gathered over the years!
Now it is all clean, it is now time to create a description for it. I shall take a peek inside the volume to see what information it holds and when it dates from…
Having a look through, the volume appears to record fires attended by Ayr fire brigade 1935 – 1941, including information on the location, which fire fighters attended the fire and how much they were paid. I see several familiar streets and buildings mentioned, but something in particular has peaked my interest….
On 29 October 1936 the volume logs a fire at a petrol store at the agricultural college, Auchincruive – this is in the same area that Ayrshire Archives HQ sits today!
It is rather easy to get lost in history. However now I have the details I need, I can fill out an accession form with the correct information so the record can be easily identified by the archivist. This was just a glimpse of what happens in an archive on a daily basis in order to receive, maintain and preserve records. As a result people are able to access important sources of information which contribute to our history and culture.
I have thoroughly enjoyed my role at Ayrshire Archives in celebration of International Archives Day and look forward to visiting again soon!