No, I didn’t get lost on the way to work. I had a day out at Dudley to see their new Archives and Local History Service.
Dudley Archives sent me some leaflets for another project I am working on, so more on that in a later post. The people and the place looked so inviting from the leaflet that I decided to visit.
It was lovely to see how a different archive is run and to meet the team. Rob Bennett the archivist met me and gave me a tour around the building, showing me the lovely new building. We saw the strong rooms and he pointed out the lift with teething problems as we took the stairs. The meeting rooms are beautifully decorated with local archive photographs, and the large room that holds the cooling system for the strong room is completely space aged. Rob even made time to explain to me the theory of cataloguing archive collections, which was really useful.
The building is shared with the home libraries team and the meeting rooms are used by local council departments, so there is a busy atmosphere to the place. The day I visited, there was a job centre plus meeting upstairs, and the Friends of the archives trained people to use the computers. Meanwhile, staff were putting together a World War One exhibition and preparing hand-outs for the next day’s visit of 100 school children. Yet Jane, Sophie, Luke and Phil still had time to welcome new users to the service – and to welcome me. Under their supervision I helped with locating and putting away boxes of archives for customers, and repackaging council archives.
I learnt lots while I was in Dudley, and I took away some new ideas and an appreciation of how different archives operate. I especially liked the friendly atmosphere and the welcoming feel of the building: it really was as welcoming as it looked from the leaflets.
I you are interested in archives from Dudley you can search their collections online or pop along and visit.