Monday, 5 April 2021

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


Saturdays have faced the brunt of our COVID-related closures as we are now only open fortnightly on Saturday mornings from 10am -12pm. Pre-COVID we were open from 9.15am -5pm every week and we are sorry to have cut the hours so low. One reason is that we are a joint Library & Archive service and the Library staff oversee everyone who comes into the building checking that they have booked in and showing them how to get to Library or the Orkney Room or the Archive Searchroom. 

One of the Library's success stories over the COVID pandemic period has been the Request and Collect service, whereby members can ask for books to be loaned to them and then they can come and pick them up from tables in the Foyer without having to browse the shelves. 

Two popular pre-COVID services have also been resumed for Library members:

The Book Box Service is for readers who live on the islands which are not served by the Mobile Library Service. A box which can normally hold up to a dozen books is selected and sent out to each reader by their local haulier with all costs being met by the Library. Each box also contains a return label for sending it back to the library and a request sheet for noting down specific titles or subjects of interest. Readers can also customize their own Book Box by browsing the Library Catalogue online and reserving their own books. 

The Home Library Service is for people who have health or mobility issues, or for library users who are suffering from a debilitating illness. There is a weekly delivery service in Kirkwall, St Ola and Stromness and a 4-weekly delivery in the other Mainland parishes and the linked South isles. Readers can let us know their interests or their favourite authors so that staff can tailor a selection and quantity of books to meet their personal requirements. 

So behind the scenes, library staff are kept pretty busy finding and selecting and delivering all these books for these three services. As a result they have had to reduce their opening hours to give staff the chance to browse the shelves without hindering visitors during normal opening times. 

And the knock-on effect is that the Archive has to close then too. But we use the time we have on a Saturday afternoon to research and reply to our many many enquiries and maybe even to catalogue our collections. 

The reason we are only open fortnightly is that we currently do not have enough staff to be on duty every Saturday. We always work with a minimum of two members of staff on a Saturday and we currently only have the equivalent of three. One Archivist, one photo technician and one Archive Assistant position that is job-shared by three people. This is since The Fonds retired. But, do not worry, dear readers, the Senior Archivist Post is being advertised as I write. 

1 comment:

  1. The services provided by the Library must have given a lot of people comfort during the past year! Knowing how isolated I felt, and I live in a suburb of Houston, TX, I think it's likely the Library was a life-line for many of Orkney's residents. It's too bad the Archives has had to reduce hours because the Library has, but it sounds like you've come up with constructive ways to use the time you do have. Hopefully, with vaccinations going up and illness going down, you'll soon be able to open for more-normal hours. And I hope the new Senior Archivist fits in well with your group.


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