Monday 25 January 2021

Archive in a Pandemic A-Z: O is for


Keen observers may have noticed we have skipped a week. This was due to our inability to see the screen through the tears of woe from losing our esteemed leader to retirement last week. Finally our wet squelchy faces are more normal looking and the public feel it's safe to come in again. 

For we are OPEN! Yes, unlike mainland Scotland, Orkney is currently* in Level 3 which means that the Library and Archive can remain open. Our opening hours are here and you have to book in advance. 

The reason you have to book in advance is so that through emails or telephone calls we can establish what sort of archives or Orkney Room books you would like to see. Then we can make sure the items you request are sitting on the table by the time you come in. So your time here can be used up by looking at the items you want to see, rather than having to search for them. This method also reduces the interaction between staff and visitors on the day of the booking. 



Our local studies room has been redesigned so that visitors are well spaced out. 

Excess furniture has been removed so that there is room to move around while keeping your distance from other visitors. 

The computer catalogue is available to use in the Orkney Room, we just ask visitors to sanitise their hands before and after using it.

We allow browsing of the shelves, and ask people to leave any books they have touched on the quarantine table. 

Quarantine Table

Used books are set aside for 72 hours before being re-shelved. 

Sadly our beloved card catalogues can not be used during this time of restriction, as we've no way to monitor which cards have been touched or a way to clean the cards without damaging them. 


ODD things from the Orkney Room:

Extract from Peace's Almanac 1885

ODD things from the Archive:

L8555-2 PHOTO Probably the parade in celebration of the Coronation of King George VI on 12th May 1937. 

Spotted by our eagle-eyed VOC**, this 1937 Kirkwall fair float carries a CORONA washing machine. I'm not sure if it was an actual make of washing machine or just a joke on the day of the Coronation. But it would be NOT popular today. 


*fingers crossed this status doesn't change by the time I publish this on Monday 25th January..

** VOC = Very Orcadian Colleague.

Friday 15 January 2021

A Fonds Farewell

The archives gang are breaking up! (sob)

The Fonds is leaving! Having selfishly allowed himself to age into retirement, he shall exit the building at 5pm today, an archivist no longer. No more cataloguing photos of women spinning and making cheese, no more family history research, no more chasing rowdy teens from the building and no more getting called in the middle of the night when the fire alarm goes off.

The old library building.

the old archives

This is a big loss to the Orkney Library and Archive. The Fonds first came to work at the Laing Street building as the photo archivist in 1986 and was promoted to head archivist in 2010. He takes with him a wealth of knowledge, information and unflappable calmness which are irreplaceable. More importantly, he was the only one of us who could work out the duty rota without being reduced to tears and, not having much of a sweet tooth, he left the buns alone.

The Fonds has contributed posts for this blog over the years and many of them can be seen here. The brighter ones among you will notice that keen music fan Fonds has included many songs titles in the blog headings, a fact which escaped the notice of Dusty and myself for some years.

Covid restrictions mean that there will be no boozy send off and we won't be able to cling to his ankles as he leaves the building for the last time begging him to check the fuse box one last time or at the very least to show us how to scan negatives as we were too busy thinking about Strictly the last time he showed us.

Our plan is to form a (socially distant) choir and warble this out the library and archive windows at him at 5pm GMT. Do join in if you feel like it:

Farewell Fonds! (Although we reserve the right to pester you by phone with all the stuff we can't find/remember/know over the next decade.)

Monday 11 January 2021

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


Happy New Year lovely readers! Some of you will be going through your third lockdown and are probably sick of the sight of your own home/spouse/fridge. We do hope that you are all managing and send you our good wishes and virtual embraces. (For those of you who are not huggers, we send you a firm and hearty handshake through the ether. No virtual air kisses though... we don't like those... )

Orkney is currently on level 3 restrictions which means that we cannot enter private homes to socialise but non-essential shops and the library and archive are permitted to remain open. We are very thankful to be able to continue working but, as the schools are currently closed, this makes life tricky for those of us with tiny little archivers. Some of us may be attempting to work from home again but, fear not, no precious documents shall be taken back to our pits of jam covered mayhem. 

We are also losing a member of staff to retirement so the archives will be a rather depleted place for the next few weeks. Sob! 

Still, the days are slowly getting longer and the sun now sets at a thrilling 3.43pm. Soon the wonderful day when we leave work at a bright and perhaps sunny 5pm will arrive. Always a day of great jubilation.

We leave you with some delightful images of lupins and puffins in anticipation of Spring. It's fun to say isn't it? Lupins and puffins, lupins and puffins, lupins and puffins... this may well be my mantra from now when things seem grim... lupins and puffins , lupins and puffins, can't wait to see some lupins and puffins...

Taken by Tom Kent. Negative no. TK 1067

Also by Tom Kent. Negative no. TK 1079

'the path through the wild lupins' - negative no. L150/2

Puffins (Tammie Nories) on the rocks at the back of Rousay. Negative L2367/1

..and why not look at this photo of a Dunlin taken at Scapa on the 2nd of September 1930 while you're at it??

Negative no. L10,293/3

All images are part of the Orkney Photographic Archive.