Monday, 2 November 2020

Archive in a Pandemic A-Z: F is for


We offer books, maps, census material, photographs and documents dating from the 1400s but the main pull of the Orkney Archive has always been the impossibly lovely visages of the staff. Sadly, you will no longer be able to examine these up close as we have been wearing face masks on the search room floor since re-opening.

Our original council-issue grey, flaccid rags made us feel sad/unstylish/like we were in prison, so we often wear our own. As expected, our masks reflect our personalities.


Staunch nationalist Dusty bought her mask from the same shop as Nicola Sturgeon and has installed a small speaker in the side which plays Scotland the Brave whenever a visitor arrives.

Our crafty and gardening-loving archive assistant HandyAndy made her floral delight with her own fair hands. Like her cakes and plants, each home-made mask is impeccably made and cared for.

Our library slash archive assistant Bootsy has, along with many fellow spectacle wearers, been suffering from steamy lenses. Tina Turner made steamy windows sound great but steamy lenses are both blinding and reminiscent of pervy nerds. Something had to be done. Her funky masks include the genius addition of an inserted pipe-cleaner to pin the top of the mask to her nose. 

I myself ordered an ecologically and morally sound face mask woven from left -over rice crispies who had stipulated in their wills that they wished to be fashioned into a mask after their deaths.

What about you readers, do you wear a sporty brand mask or is it long, fringed and scarf-like? Have you sent away for a personalised one or do you simply pick up a packet of disposable masks with your weekly shop? Let us see when you next visit us as we do require all archive users to wear a mask whilst walking around the building although you can remove it when sitting down to work.


  1. My masks are cotton, sewn by my friend. I made lucet cords for the masks, and for a bunch she made for me to send to Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota. My husband's mask is also cotton. Ours feature SHARKS ready to gnaw the virus to death!! Hubby has a mask-donning disability, so I tied the cords on his mask into loops and sewed a length of elastic between them. Now he takes off his glasses, slips the mask on over his head, and then replaces his glasses. Like Bootsy, we, too suffered from steamed-up lenses. Lacking pipe cleaners, I sewed Twist-ties to the tops of our masks. They work pretty well, too. Our son wears Michigan State University masks, one featuring a logo called "Gruff Sparty," which was drawn by a man who used to work with my father. Hammy drew Sparty back in the 1950s, and he was an instant hit with the students.

  2. Wonderful! I love the sharks idea. Many best wishes to you, your husband and your son Sue. Keep well and stay safe!

  3. Well, it's a new day and a new story. Mr Genknit tested positive for covid, despite the fact that we have been living pretty much in seclusion since March. He met a friend for lunch last Friday; Sunday the friend got a fever and so got tested, and was positive for covid. He emailed Mr Genknit on Monday; Mr Genknit got tested Wednesday (per directions from the hospital that did the test) and it came back positive. masks really help? I am not convinced. Sorry--I know that's a bad button to push. But when one has taken every precaution, and goes out ONE frickin' time and gets it, well, doubts assail one. For those of you who are praying people, please pray for us. We are 68 and 66 years old with mild underlying conditions.

    On a happier note, I can't wait to see what G stands for. I will be watching.


    1. Aw, Sue, I am so sorry to hear your news. I do hope Mr Genknit will be ok soon. Sending lots of good luck and healthy thoughts across the ocean!

  4. Thanks, Dusty. So far we're managing with pretty mild but uncomfortable symptoms. In good news, our son, who also lives in our small 1,200 sq ft house, tested negative. He is hanging out in his bedroom. Mr Genknit and I have felt much worse from various colds, and the other Chinese virus we got when some friends returned from a 6-week cruise/tour of China a couple of years ago. Man, we were sick! So far, this is not even close to that. We hope it stays that way. We've been told that Day 10 is usually the worst; that's tomorrow for Mr Genknit, and based on when I started showing symptoms, Friday (the 13th--how appropriate! ^_^) for me.

    Let's see: G could be for Grab Bag, or Gestation, or Garbage (as in, what to do with archival material that really isn't useful for anything!), Generosity...I can't wait to see what y'all come up with.

    I can't figure out how to get the "notify me by email" button to work, so that's why it takes me a while to answer sometimes. Don't panic if I don't answer--it's most likely because I forgot to come check. ;)



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