As many archive services do, West Sussex Record Office closes to the public for the first two weeks in December every year for a ‘stocktaking’ period. During the fortnight, searchroom staff are able to spend time catching up on odd jobs and housekeeping projects, as well as focusing on cataloguing.
Throughout the year, we set aside tasks to tackle when we close to the public, which include a stocktake of microfiche, checking the correct order and for any missing fiche, cleaning the open library shelves in the searchroom, and re-labelling and re-boxing microfilm. This year, we also re-packaged many of our maps in new melinex folders, re-numbered a complicated probate inventory index, and sorted through our Royal Sussex Regiment indexes to make copies available for public use in the searchroom.
In 2016, the Record Office has undertaken a large re-shelving project in two of our strongrooms. This has meant a significant upheaval to our storage system, with many records being held in temporary locations in other strongrooms. During our closed fortnight, searchroom staff were able to help the collections team in moving material to the new shelving, and labelling shelves, finding a permanent new home for the bulk of our photographic collections and other records.
The second week of our closed period is dedicated to cataloguing, with searchroom staff able to focus on on-going cataloguing projects. Among the accession being catalogued were records of the Bognor Bowls Club, the Worthing Operatic Society, Milton Mount College, Henfield Players, and a collection of photographs from the Chichester Camera Club. Thanks to the hard work of the searchroom team, many of these records will soon be available for the public to use.
This year, we were also able to make a visit to Chichester Cathedral, for a tour of the Treasury and Library thanks to the Cathedral Treasurer, Michael Moriarty. In addition to being the Diocesan Record Office, WSRO also holds Capitular and Episcopal records, and has strong links to Chichester Cathedral. It was a fascinating visit, and useful for the staff to familiarise themselves with not only the history of the Cathedral, but the facilities on offer to the public.
The searchroom will be re-opening to the public on Tuesday 20th December, with the following closure periods over Christmas and New Year –
Saturday 24 December to Tuesday 27 December 2016 (inclusive)
Saturday 31 December 2016 to Monday 2 January 2017 (inclusive)