Monday 21 December 2020

Archive in a Pandemic A-Z: M is for...


When you visit the Archive Searchroom you will be offered gloves to wear or the option of washing your hands with soapy water. You might be wondering why we don't offer sanitiser. It has been suggested that sanitiser can be harmful to paper and therefore can damage our collections.

A study on the Impact of Hand Sanitizers on Collection Materials has been conducted by the Library of Congress and their findings can be found here.  

Extract: "The Preservation and Testing Division (PRTD) screened alcohol and water-based sanitisers to assess their effect on paper based collection materials. 

Their findings were that the results from colormetry measurements indicated an increase in yellowness for the coated relative to uncoated papers, where both were exposed to elevated heat and humidity. Alcohol-based hand sanitizers showed the most significant change in color compared to water-based. Differences in colour between the uncoated and coated aged samples were visually detectable in some cases. For the water-based sanitizers, the water-based formulation with the fewest ingredients, showed minimal to no detectable color difference after application. While hand washing is recommended over sanitising, because the former removes dirt and oils where the later does not, if sanitisers continue to be offered at various institutions, water-based formulations are recommended."

Although water-based formulations are recommended in the Library of Congress study, this study by Which magazine on Hand Hygiene, soap and sanitiser gel, adds to the argument that washing your hands with soap is safer than using non-alcoholic or water-based hand sanitisers. 

Extract: "It's all about the type of virus we're dealing with. COVID-19 is an enveloped virus. This means that the RNA (nucleic acid - the viral genetic material) is coated in a lipid (fatty) layer. Soap is able to dissolve this lipid layer, causing the virus to fall apart and stopping it from binding to our cells. Alcohol-based hand sanitisers work in a similar way, inactivating the virus by breaking down the lipid layer.

Alcohol-free hand sanitisers commonly contain ingredients such as benzalkonium choride or chlorhexidine digluconate. A recent study in the Journal of Hospital Medicine (March 2020) found these ingredients less effective in deactivating viruses similar to COVID-19 (although the study looked at surfaces not hands)."


That's enough science for one day. Here's part of a nice map of Kirkwall to view:

Kirkwall and Grain, Dundas Estate. William Aberdeen dated 1766 Reference: D8/E/19


We would like to wish all our followers a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. Our next Archive in a Pandemic Blog post will be on the 11th January 2021. Stay safe out there folks!

The Archive Christmas Tree with Hudson Bay Bear and the Archive Gibbon 

Monday 14 December 2020

Archive in a Pandemic A-Z: L is for...


Look at this picture readers. You may think it is a store-cupboard but no, this has been the archive staff tea-room for the duration of the pandemic.

No longer permitted to use the staff room downstairs, we sit one at a time with the piles of chairs and tables which were removed from the main area of the library to make social distancing easier.

Gone are the merry days of inter-departmental chats over a cuppa accompanied by sticky home bakes all taken from a communal plate. The library staff are are still using the downstairs staff room but with limited numbers. We sit alone over our lonesome cups of tea and, alone, we stare out at the car park and, if we go on our tip-toes, the supermarkets. Sometimes we play our harmonicas to while away the minutes. (We are not very good.)

Also, the desk staff are quite often trapped in our perspex bubble for the mornings and so have to take a tea-break in the afternoon. I know! 10.30am has been tea-time for many years and hot drinks just make us snoozy in the afternoons.

Thank goodness for the atrium over the lending area. We can press ourselves against the glass and still see our dear librarian colleagues. The above photo also shows that L is for Looooooong way out. Archive visitors still use the same staircase to enter the search room but, upon exiting, they are requested to follow a series of arrows right to the end of the corridor, down the Western staircase, and out the fire exit.

Fingers crossed that 2021 sees the return of sociable tea-times.

Monday 7 December 2020

Archive in a Pandemic A-Z: K is for...


Kirkwall is where we are, the great metropolis of Orkney. Home of a cathedral, two palaces, a ghost of a castle and our stupendous workplace the Orkney Library & Archive. 

Kirkwall Postcard by W H Hourston, our ref: WHH8612

Kirkwall has been hard hit by the Pandemic with many shops struggling to cope with the lack of custom. A popular music venue and colourful cafĂ© has recently announced defeat and will not re-open again. 

During Lockdown it was very quiet in the centre of town. 

A Saturday afternoon in Albert Street during Lockdown, April 11th 2020

Normally Albert Street would be full of locals and visitors. But this year there was no usual crop of Summer People: tourists, cruise-shippers, students or archaeologists. 

A Saturday afternoon in December 2020

The compulsory wearing of face-masks in shops has given more locals the confidence to meet and chat in the street again, but even now the shops are still quiet when they should be busy with Christmas shoppers. Many people might still be nervous about visiting the town centre and choose to stay at home and shop online. 

Tenuous Link Alert!

Back in the past when the residents of Kirkwall and Orkney had to rely on trades and shops to be close by, Kirkwall was teeming with businesses. This is the Kirkwall Burgh list from the 1920 Peace's Almanac: 

Peace's Almanac 1920 (Orkney Room Ref: 914.1 YZ Periodicals)

Peace's Almanac 1920 (Orkney Room Ref: 914.1 YZ Periodicals)

Photo credits: A Saturday in April by John Ross Scott; A Saturday in December by Lucy Gibbon