Wednesday, 19 May 2010

The Searchers

The Archive department have been running around in a faff all morning because we are confused by our own cataloguing system.

All of our deposits and collections are numbered in a set, very logical fashion. First of all, a collection gets a number. For example, the 97th collection that is a deposit or gift is called D97. Each box within that collection then gets it's own number; so the 19th box in collection D97 would be D97/19.

This sequential numbering follows right the way through folders, to individual envelopes within that folder, to pieces of paper within said envelopes. So when I want to look at a Guardian article called 'The Deadly Call of The Sea' which was sent to Margaret Tait when she was writing Blue Black Permanent, I am given the number D97/19/15/7/16. Therefore, I know that the article is the 16th piece of paper in the 7th envelope in the 15th folder in the 19th box of the Margaret Tait collection, which is deposit collection number 97.

It is a very logical system and is never deviated from. So why did we spend an hour this morning running around like headless chickens whilst bemused customers waited patiently for their requested archives?

We 'lost' three things this morning. One has never been given a number, one was given a number which was not entered into the database and one deposit had been catalogued,numbered and placed on the correct shelf but a certain person, who most definitely was not me, couldn't see it for looking. So basically, the system is perfect, yet we are simpletons.

Don't let this post stop you from handing stuff in though, this morning was a rare aberration, we always find things eventually and it's probably quite entertaining to watch us all running about looking for stuff. Click below and imagine us scurrying from room to room, looking in cupboards, boxes and shelf units with puzzled expressions on our faces.

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