Saturday, 29 May 2010
The police were obviously expecting a lot of people to turn up as we have an enormous poster in the archive warning about parking vehicles in the wrong place and not crowding the exits.
These flights and later, the internet have made Orkney seem a lot less isolated than it was but I have still yet to see a Saturday supplement in the shops before 2.00pm...
Friday, 28 May 2010
At first reading, one's initial reaction is, why did William stay in Canada, as he seems to be having such a terrible time.
He goes on to complain about how very expensive provisions are and says that his 16 year old daughter is his company now but, as there are few women in Langly, she will soon be snapped up as a wife.
The amazing thing is that William does not seem at all sorry for himself and indeed confesses himself to be 'surprised' that Magnus is too afraid to come to Canada. He tells his brother about his two claims of land; one is under his name, the other is being kept aside for his son.
'I have got plenty to eat and drink and I am always in my owen bed at night and can save a little tou', he says. It seems that owning your own land and lying down under a roof that belonged to you was worth a great deal to men like William who would undoubtedly have rented a tiny piece in Orkney along with the vast majority of the population.
Life was tough in Canada, but it was tough in Orkney too. The hardiness that living in an Orcadian climate brought is the reason that so many Orcadians were engaged to work in Canada by the Hudson bay Company. See? Everyone who lives here is hard as nails! Grrrrrrrrrrrr! We'll cut ya!
(We won't at all, we'll probably shower you with tea and scones and say 'fine' a lot.)
Thursday, 27 May 2010
Wednesday, 26 May 2010
Tuesday, 25 May 2010
You may be surprised then to learn that little old Orkney is expecting SEVENTY THREE cruise liners this Summer with a record FOUR vessels all stopping in Kirkwall on August the 18th!
Monday, 24 May 2010
Any money saving suggestions are very welcome. Off the top of our heads, we're thinking about switching off all the lights and handing out head lamps to visitors as they arrive. Alternatively, the electricity could be run off a couple of exercise bikes in the foyer, thus combining local authority gym and library/archive in one cost effective movement.
Our heating can be off now that summer is blooming, but perhaps we could have a stock of stylish library ponchos to pass around during winter time? They could be knitted from the spun dust and hair that collects in the library vacuum cleaners. Waste not, want not!
The biggest lay out each year is probably staff wages but these will surely decrease if we all move into the library and therefore no longer have rent or mortgages to pay. We would be like a big, poor, smelly family (only one shower between 30). We'd say goodnight like the Waltons and comfort eat like the Simpsons.
And I suppose we could switch to value brand biscuits in the staff room, but let's not get ahead of ourselves...
Saturday, 22 May 2010
Friday, 21 May 2010
Information taken from Howard Hazell's Orcadian book of the 20th Century.
Photograph of Dunning landing taken from our Photographic archive.
Photograph of islands plane taken from wikipedia.
Thursday, 20 May 2010
To deal with this surge in customers, we have been allowed a summer assistant this year. Interviews are taking place and we wait with baited breath to meet our new archive buddy.
Wednesday, 19 May 2010
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.
Tuesday, 18 May 2010
The victors shall take home the weird smelly plant which keeps on growing even though we stopped watering it at Christmas. If you think about it, one plant between 12 is better than one shared between 500.
According to a newspaper article I found in the Ernest Walker Marwick collection, we may have company as, up until WW2, black magic rituals took place at the Stones of Stenness
"About 60 people were there" an RAF officer told the Empire News. " all their faces were hooded and wearing blankets. They held candles and incense was burning and it was so packed that some of them couldn't get in. One man with an Orkney accent read the Black mass. And they all chanted, and I swear I can't remember it happening, but certainly there was this brand mark on my leg - a burn- but not painful at all."
Hmmmm, they don't sound like they'll be much of a laugh but we'll see. Book your flights/trains/ferries now!
Information taken from reference: D31/47/3/29
Monday, 17 May 2010
Saturday, 15 May 2010
About half an hour ago, a sulphurous whiff reached our delicate nostrils. At first we assumed that one of our colleagues or customers had eaten a few too many egg sandwiches, but it has become apparent that stink bombs have been activated on the stairs, children's area and both ends of the top floor!
Staff members are currently patrolling the building armed with air freshener, so the situation is under control. We are sprinkling the ground with sweets and football stickers, making a trail to a big box propped up on a stick, to catch the offenders.
We shall then punish them in kind by locking them in with the smelly moths collection in the BioDiversity store.
Gary talked about our strong relationships with groups such as the Orkney Family History Society and the Talking Newspaper. He showed photos of our wonderful volunteers who work in both the library and archive departments. There were also examples of our website, the blog and Stewart's hilarious tweets (which were mentioned on Simon Mayo's drive time show!)
Friday, 14 May 2010
Bookstart is an initiative which aims to provide access and suitable reading materials to pre-school children and foster a life-long love of reading. Bookstart Rhyme Times are held twice monthly in the MacGillivray room on the first floor of the library. There is a monthly session for babies and another for toddlers. Click here for dates and times.
This type of clause seems to have been common. In 1768, 16 year old Thomas Balfour had to promise his mentor, Aberdonian George Skene, to avoid 'carding, nightwalking and all scandalous and debauched company.' If he did not abide by this rule, then he had to pay Dr Skene £20, which in today's money would be around about £1, 273,80.
Printing apprentices with William Peace & son had to sign a contract which specified a 'cheerful' demeanour and demanded an extra day's work for each day's absence without a surgeon's certificate. I was disturbed to read that a printer's apprenticeship was 7 years long compared to the surgeon's 4 and a half years. Should it take longer to be trusted with a tray of type than the task of cutting up a human body?
This 7 year apprenticeship for printing continued until well into the twentieth century. Indeed, we had to sign our lives away in blood when joining the archive. We had to promise on pain of death to always wear white gloves when handling documents which pre-date 1800 and if our bosses see us in a pub, then we have to give them our entire collection of Five Star Memorabilia before being forced to drink the meths that we keep to clean the sticker gunge off off the tables while they stand over us shouting "Like a drink do you? Well drink this!" It's all there in black and white and is pretty standard as archives contract go.
Indentures references D1/313/4, D1/471 and D2/33/9
Thursday, 13 May 2010
If you listen carefully, then you will hear an excerpt of this post from this very blog being read out to a local audience. More was read out on the night itself, but our amazing comedic zingers caused at least three members of the audience to laugh themselves hernias and one poor woman slipped into a comedy coma. To make up for this, the next three posts will probably not be very amusing at all. With great power comes great responsibility.
Wednesday, 12 May 2010
Monday, 10 May 2010
In December 1959, the Netherbutton transmitter station opened in Holm and Orkney were officially television-watchers. An Orkney Herald article from February 1959 pointed out that this service was being heavily subsidised as it was costing 6 times the amount of Licence Revenue collected in Orkney to provide it.
(above) Televisions being unloaded for sale in Orkney
Orcadians were, for the most part, delighted with this new entertainment with one farmer quoted in The Orkney Herald as saying " They wireless... I niver liked jist the voice only... Bit this! You hiv the folk there on the screen an' you can see every blooman thing they deu." The farmer then tells a charming tale about how, before television, the cold nights used to keep visitors away and his wife used to end up talking so much he was forced to feign slumber "tae get some peace."
He then goes on to deny that it stops you from working and that he and his wife have brought pails and a grinding stone into the living room so that they can prepare food for the hens and calves and wash eggs whilst watching the box. "They hiv a kind of geudly bit on some nights, bit wae milk the kye while hid's on, so that wae don't miss the Toppers."
To translate for non-Orcadians: "I say old chaps, they have a terribly religious program on some evenings, but we milk the cows while that's on, so that we don't miss the Toppers."
These Television Toppers, a dance troupe, enraged a local Orkney business man who, when asked his opinion of television, said "I just won't have it!... It is for the most part 14 to 17 inches... of flickering imbecility. The world crammed into a chocolate box."
"To watch it makes me feel cramped. The announcer, confined to his desk, trying to see how many words he can say without looking at his paper fills me with frustration.. So with the actors in the plays... like tadpoles in the jam jar... So, too, with the Toppers, kicking up little four inch legs to show their pants." The rest of the article descends into even more ranting punctuated with lots of capitalised words like SENSE! UNFUNNINESS! OLD, OLD,OLD!
Above, you can see members of staff from the Orkney Library and Archive taking part in the 'Helping Hands' pledge, wherein we promised to help any old people we knew to ready their televisions for the digital switchover.
The sad truth, is that if you asked most of the people in this picture for such advice, it would probably just end with the two of us standing beside your telly and looking confused. We really had no business taking such a pledge, but we wanted to put our hands in the paint. Sorry Grans, better get out the knitting.
Information taken from issues of the Orkney Herald and Howard Hazell's Orcadian Book of the 20th Century.
Friday, 7 May 2010
We have no idea what was done about this discovery, nor when it occurred, only that it was at a time when it was fashionable to walk around wearing nothing but an elasticated waist anorak and unflattering calf length boots.
Photo reference: 930: L2432/1
Winner of the of Most Disturbing Recipe Award is the 'Savoury Supper Dish', which involves layers of corned beef or tinned salmon, tomatoes, canned spaghetti hoops and onion in a dish, white sauce over the lot, baked in a medium oven for half an hour.
We can only hope that this teacher was just writing down random ingredients for a hilarious laugh.
There is also a recipe for salad cream, a vile substance which should be made illegal. Why would you want to make it? It dries clear....
Thursday, 6 May 2010
The Iceland ash cloud caused a bit of concern this year and apparently "a really fast boat" is standing by to bring the northern votes this year.
Wednesday, 5 May 2010
Sunday, 2 May 2010
Saturday, 1 May 2010
Illustration taken from County Folklore Volume III, Orkney and Shetland Islands by G. F. Black