June 1, 2020, by H Cotterill
But what do you do all day? Our Lockdown Diary
We closed the doors to our reading room at 5pm on Friday 20th March and since then all our members of staff have been working from home. Now, in the first of a series of blogs, we want to update you on what we’ve been working on whilst socially-distancing from our beloved archive and rare book collections.
In this first blog, we’re focussing on some of the cataloguing work that has been achieved over the last two months.
Cataloguing might seem like one of those tasks that would be impossible to do remotely. After all how do you describe something that you can’t see? Sadly the answer is not to take the collections home with you on the bus. Instead we’ve been doing a combination of new cataloguing using copies and images of original documents and enhancing existing catalogue records.
Our archival collections are catalogued using CALM – the most commonly used archive management software. This is the behind-the-scenes software that our archivists use but the public don’t see. One of the most important jobs that we’ve achieved in lockdown is testing the latest upgrade to CALM and we will soon be moving from version 10 to version 11. The new version irons out some bugs, making it easier for staff to use. Moving to Calm version 11 is also essential in order for us to update the look and feel of our Manuscripts Online Catalogue – the catalogue that the public use to search our collections. The Manuscripts Online Catalogue is built using a product called CalmView, and currently runs on CalmView 4, which was developed in 2016. CalmView 5 has a more modern look and is more responsive when viewed on different devices. Users viewing our catalogue on a phone screen will get a much better experience when we go live with the new website. One of our archivists has been busy configuring CalmView 5 to ensure that it looks and works how we want it to and in a way that is best for our users. Keep an eye-out for the new look Manuscripts Online Catalogue when it goes live in mid-June, and let us know what you think.
As the keepers of the University archive we hold the official records of the University of Nottingham and its predecessor, University College Nottingham. However the official record is just part of the story and we also collect the archives of former members of staff and students, all of which help to show how the University has changed and developed over the years.
Included in these unofficial records are photographs of the University and University College which have been donated over many years by alumni, students, staff and other individuals. Work has been ongoing for several years to catalogue these photographs and we are pleased to announce that catalogue descriptions of over 50 groups of photographs are now available online. These photographs, which can be searched for using collection reference NUP, document the development of the campus, with a number of photographs of building and construction work, as well as capturing something of what it was like to work and study here. They span the period 1910-1996.
Work has also been underway to catalogue photographs taken on behalf of the University, by departments, staff and others. These form a separate collection and we hope to make some of these catalogue entries available online in the next couple of months.
We continue to collect material relating to life at the University Of Nottingham and one of our recent blog posts included a call for donations. Read more here.
You can search the manuscripts catalogue at http://mss-cat.nottingham.ac.uk/
Keep reading our blog for further updates on what we’ve been working on from home. The next post in this series will focus on some of our crucial but little-known behind the scenes work.