Friday 30 April 2010
Thursday 29 April 2010
Due to this unforseen change of circumstance, the library will be closing early today at 5.00pm. We apologize for any inconvenience that this may cause.
At approximately 2.55pm yesterday, if the wind was blowing in the right direction and your windows were open, you may have heard a high pitched screech coming from the general direction of Junction Road.
Today, in 1986, a fire broke out in Los Angeles Library and they lost 20% of their stock. That is 400,000 books! To put this into perspective, Orkney Library has about 80,000 items, the photographic archive holds about 60,000 original photographs and the archives hold about 30,000 documents. The thought of an entire Orkney Library and Archive's worth of material, doubled, going up in flames was too much to bear and the final two hours of the day were spent stroking books and whispering consolingly to glass negatives and maps.
Archivists spend an awful lot of time thinking about worst case scenarios simply because of the priceless nature of most deposits. Part of our Assistant Archivist's job is to maintain an up-to-date 'Disaster Plan' which details our course of action should there, shudder, be a fire, flood or infestation of some kind.
Bearing in mind the possibility that we may have to save an archive from fire, water or vermin, we spend any downtime holding our breath in buckets of water, thrusting our hands into flames and thinking up cutting insults to shout at beasties. You're welcome Orkney.
Disclaimer: After posting this yesterday afternoon, I was accosted by members of staff from both Library and Archive and told that I had gotten the estimates of our stock levels wrong. They were totally hassling me! They were all up in my grill!
Apparently the Library holds nearer 145,000 items, but this includes Stromness and the Mobile Libraries. I suppose it is possible for a fire to consume Kirkwall library, spread across the West Mainland, gobbling up Mobile 1 as it goes, ravaging the whole of Stromness' main street on it's way to set the Stromness library ablaze, before leaping across the water and catching Mobile 2 on Hoy. Not
I took my number of archives from those catalogued on the database, but we do have entire room full of uncatalogued items which I forgot about. What-ever.
Wednesday 28 April 2010
Tuesday 27 April 2010
Monday 26 April 2010
#1: A letter which mentions biscuits.
#2: a man on a pig.
Friday 23 April 2010
The two pictures are ever so slightly different, with the left picture showing more landscape to the left and vice-versa. When viewed through a stereoscope, our eyes are tricked into believing that this card is one three dimensional image.
We have a set of Orcadian scenes printed in this way that are very delicate, each wrapped in a piece of archival tissue paper.
"Well thanks a lot!" you cry "but I don't have a stereoscope and I really really like looking at cool 3D images, you're just teasing us!"
Don't worry, faithful readers. Merely print out the image and look at it cross-eyed. You can do this whilst looking at it on the computer screen if you're lazy but it is probably really bad for your eyes.
If you are in a room with other people, don't worry about looking stupid; we've been doing it all morning and we looked awesome.
Thursday 22 April 2010
Wednesday 21 April 2010
Today Orcadians awoke to the news that their passenger ferry, the Hamnavoe, had been commandeered as part of a rescue mission to Norway.
This might be okay if the other service, connecting Aberdeen and Lerwick, had not decided to miss out the Orkney stop! And the planes are not going properly yet! Thank goodness for the Pentalina....but it will be packed!
It's hard not to feel a little panicky and stranded. Who knows, by the end of the day there could be looting and pillaging in the streets of Kirkwall! Orkney will have split into two tribes and we'll all forget how to use cutlery and start wearing face paint and necklaces made out of each others' teeth!!!!!!!!!!!
In order to put things into a little perspective, I have looked out an Edinburgh Advertiser from 1769. It contains an article about a party of sailors who were trapped on a small uninhabited island, just West of Orkney, when they disembarked and a storm blew their ship back out to sea 'where they continued feven days without fire or lodging, or any fubfistence except fcurvy grafs, fea weed, and brackifh water.'
Eventually, nine of them set out for Stromness on the one small boat they had left to raise the alarm. A sloop was dispatched to rescue the remaining sailors but kept being beaten back by wind and wave. At the time of publication, their fate was unknown.
So things could be worse.
Archive refrerence: D1/660/18 [H1]
Tuesday 20 April 2010
Monday 19 April 2010
Saturday 17 April 2010
I will keep quiet about the subjects for now, as the winners are yet to be announced. I can reveal, however, that the winner shall not be a person who photocopied one of last year's winning projects and just stuck their own name on the cover. Neither will it be someone whose mum or dad did all the research in the archive. We are, of course, dealing with completely hypothetical situations here.
The archives always know children, the archives always know...
Friday 16 April 2010
Thursday 15 April 2010
I asked my colleague to think of 'something cool' to put up for the blog birthday and was shown the awesome Kirkwall Charter which is pictured at the top of the page. It is kept in a special box and just look at the amazing seal on it! It dates from the 15th of May 1661 and it is a Charter of Confirmation by King Charles II in favour of the Burgh of Kirkwall.
We told three of our favourite celebrities, Stevie Wonder, Girl in a Striped Top and Terry Wogan that it was our blogging birthday and they very kindly travelled back in time and put together this little video for us. Guys, you shouldn't have!
Tuesday 13 April 2010
Monday 12 April 2010
What would you guess is the most frequent word that is mentioned in these books? Pews perhaps? Hymn? Charity? Lord?
Saturday 10 April 2010
Rumours that there is to be a Dr Who episode based on this incredible event were unconfirmed at time of publication. Let's make it happen people!
Friday 9 April 2010
The death of Malcolm McLaren came as a surprise last night and we thought that we would try to look for evidence of his influence on pop culture in Orkney.
Not one photograph could be found of an Orcadian punk, however, nor evidence of the Sex Pistol's album causing any ripples of alarm.
The 1977 Orcadian was searched in vain for letters from staid citizens, anxious for the moral well-being of the islands' youth. Still nothing.
You just have to read between the lines though. Look at these two Sheriff Court reports from the Orcadian dated 1st December 1977, a mere 5 weeks after the album's release. Not only was a boy caught DRINKING BEER whilst STANDING BESIDE SOME GIRLS, but some 16 year old girls had a bit of an argument in the Cosmo toilets which ended with someone BEING PUSHED and HAIR BEING PULLED. Despicable behaviour that could not even have been imagined before Johnny Rotten sang his nasty anarchic lyrics.
. I particularly like the fact that he 'just found the
beers in a bin'. That's a touch of class right there.
We have also included a photograph of the cream of Orkney's youth at this pivotal time; the Editorial Team for the Kirkwall Grammar School Magazine The Kirkwallian for that year.
Who knows what dark, depraved thoughts are flitting behind those young and seemingly innocent eyes?
Never Mind the Sex Pistols, let us end this post with a video from Bow Wow Wow, who were ace...
Thursday 8 April 2010
The keyword 'election' retrieves 147 records in our database. Posters, special editions of newspapers, manifestos and leaflets have all been carefully saved for posterity.
Orkney has, for the last 60 years, been a Liberal, later Liberal-Democrat seat. This began with the very popular Jo Grimond's 33 years as MP for Orkney and Shetland and continued with 18 years from Jim Wallace and the current MP for the Isles, Alastair Carmichael.
There is a lot of dissatisfaction with the political process nowadays with many people unattracted by any of the three major parties. That is why Orkney Library and Archive plan to start their own amazing political party.
Our aims are simple: to promote interest in local culture and history and encourage the collection and preservation of 'old tat'. We further hope to raise the profile of the pleasures of a simple book. Our slogan will be something like 'Stop doing that crack and heroin, read a book instead.' I cannot believe that no-one has thought of this already.
We are a modern institution and realise the importance of capturing the media attention. Our candidate has already lined up an interview with the Orcadian wherein they plan to talk candidly about that time they got a stapler stuck under their fingernail when removing it from a deposit and 'My tea and bun hell'. A few teary pictures should move even the most stone-hearted of voters.
Getting the candidate's other half to mince about town in an M&S dress whilst distributing home-made snacks may be harder to achieve but should ultimately be worth it.
Our campaign song will probably be 'No Stoppin' Us' by Ollie and Jerry, which is also the theme tune to Breakin' (Electric Boogaloo), surely the greatest film that has ever been made about Breakdancing.
The first campaign meeting shall take place next week. Come down and bust some moves with us and eat some radical home-bakes. You can also bring the £1,500 you owe us for the last three posts. You thieves.
If you need to check if you are registered to vote, then the Archive hold a copy of the electoral register which you are welcome to consult.
Wednesday 7 April 2010
Surely there are many women who wonder how on earth they would have coped with life without their lessons in semaphore, flower pressing and knot recognition. Camping certainly taught many valuable life-lessons such as balancing all your possessions on top of two logs in a tent, saturating all meals with heart-healthy lard and sticking chocolate digestives together using only melted marshmallows.
Orkney Museum is marking this anniversary with an exhibition running from the 3rd until the 24th of April.
Girl Guides gathering sphagnum moss in Orkney, 1917. Sphagnum moss, or bog moss, is famed for its ability to evenly absorb enormous amounts of moisture. Consequently, it was in great demand during the First World War for use as dressings for wounds. (Ewwwwwwww)This Holm Brownie troup appear to have made some useful shell-encrusted wells.
Nice hats, ladies.
A grooovy American Girl Guide catalogue from the seventies which looks like an ace 1970s album cover but contains the travesties of fashion that are pictured below.
Saturday 3 April 2010
It is hard to believe that anyone ever thought this to be a good idea.