– notes, frequently asked questions and useful links from the archivist and curator of manuscripts at Balliol College, University of Oxford. Opinions expressed are the author's own.

Posts tagged “update

monthly report December 2016

A few numbers about archives & manuscripts activity during December:

  • Number of enquiries: 25 (up to 16 December when the archives closed for the holidays; 10 days open)
  • Final total for 2016: 875
  • Number of researchers in person (unique users): 5
  • Number of person-days in the reading room: 8
  • Collections consulted: Woods, Malcolm,TH Green, early modern MSS, college records
  • No of non-research visitors:9
  • Interesting events & activities: visit from Balliol Fellow and English students for an introduction to medieval manuscripts workshop; Anna visited the archives at Campion Hall re GM Hopkins, and attended the COLOUR conference and exhibition at the Fitzwilliam Museum, University of Cambridge.

new blog!


Balliol College Library‘s early printed books blog is up and running! Tune in all year for posts by project staff Lucy and Nikki on the Reconstructing Nicholas Crouch cataloguing & conservation project:https://balliollibrary.wordpress.com/. There’s a link in the menu bar at right as well.

monthly report: January 2013

A new feature – each month I’ll be posting a report on some of the previous month’s activities. Items reported on will doubtless develop over time; some months there will be nothing to mention in some fields, but I’m guessing that won’t happen often.

Researcher services

  • Days open: 18
  • Number of remote enquiries (emails, letters): 70
  • Number of researchers in person: 9
  • Number of person-days in the reading room: 9 (not the same 9!)
  • Collections consulted: David Urquhart papers (2), Nicolson diaries, MS 260, MS 271, Archives sport/society records, Browning papers, Swinburne papers, TH Green papers, Caird papers
  • Topics of enquiry: MS 383, MS 354, AL Smith papers, family/individual history (12), Conroy papers, David Urquhart & Chalet papers, college heraldry, Hannah Brackenbury (2), Matthew Arnold, Swinburne papers (3), palaeography (4), Balliol Players, Jenkyns papers, records management, Adam von Trott, Harold Macmillan, Benjamin Jowett, RBD Morier papers, property formerly owned by Balliol, college history, college memorials, several requests for images…

Collection care

  • Cataloguing: Claire has finished detailing the Browning letters and is working on the Leonardo Society papers.
  • Digitisation: RBD Morier papers, file 15.6. 313 images posted to Flickr.


  • blog posts: 7
  • a tour of St Cross & one of Broad Street site
  • major overhaul of the website underway
  • advice to local church on care of their records


  • continuing 23 Things for Research (slowly!)
  • Learning Institute module
  • Conservation studio – session on procedures re loans for exhibitions

a note about the move and opening dates at St Cross

I am very frequently asked these days how the move is going, how many loads we have moved so far, how many van loads of material are still left to move, how long it is going to take, when the opening ceremony will be and when readers will be able to start coming to use the collections. Here are the answers I have so far – they are not complete.

We’ve already moved 8 or 9 van loads and that’s only recently listed modern papers collections, reference books and files from my office. We’re moving modern papers first in order to have as stable an environment as possible for the very old MSS to come into – every arrival creates fluctuations in the temperature and humidity in the repositories. I estimate that there are at least 7 full loads still to come in the main archive repository alone, and that’s one fairly small (though tightly packed) room. Factor in all the archives, early manuscripts and modern papers in the library basement, library annexe, ground floor grilles, Old Dean’s Room and archive office and we’re well into the dozens of loads.

And that doesn’t include the works of art on paper, the reference books to come from the library or the early printed books!

In short, I really don’t know yet. But I’ll keep you posted. So far it’s going well. But moving OUT is only one part, and far from half, of the job; moving IN though much more straightforward takes more time. I have a map of where collections will go to in the new repositories, but as there are several standard sizes of box (and lots of non-standard-size boxes), most of the shelves have to be adjusted before filling. We try to fill the crates and the van in a logical order, but inevitably there is some initial sorting of boxes needed at the other end. I put all the boxes away myself. There is no point having someone pass me a box from the bottom of the ladder; I would have to come partway down, turn round, take the box, adjust to its weight (often considerable), turn round on the ladder and go up again. Much easier and safer to go right down and carry the box safely all the way up. I should say that the ladder is more like a steep staircase with handrails on both sides and around three sides at the top! Once a collection is safely on the new shelves, I list the exact shelf location of every box; this goes into a database.

Moving depends on the availability of the van and manpower, and the weather. Also, I haven’t dropped everything else; there are still the usual numerous remote enquiries coming in by email and letter, and it’s been – and will continue to be – a busy season for exhibitions for college events, with a liberal dose of tours of the new premises as requested by college officers.

I’m not going to bore you with all the reasons why we decided to do this move in-house rather than getting a specialist moving firm (unless I receive another frequently asked question to this effect!), but please believe me, we did explore that possibility, and our decision was based on effectiveness, not cost.

I’m also asked regularly about opening dates; there will be several. For me, the real opening date means ‘when can readers start coming to look at archives and manuscripts?’ The answer to that remains Michaelmas term, October 2011. If that changes, the update will be posted here, on the website, via the NRA, on mailing lists etc etc etc. There will be various ‘opening ceremonies’ and open days for Balliol people and the general public; these dates are not up to me, have not been determined and will be similarly splashed about once they are set.

That’s all I know for the moment. .

holiday closed period

Balliol College will close on Wednesday 22 December 2010 and will open again on Tuesday 4 January 2011. Enquiries sent to the archives after 21 December will not be read until 4 January and the FOI 20-day clock will stop ticking during the closed period.


Recently added to image sets online at flickr:

  • Balliol Boys’ Club Magazine 1913 and 1921
  • Balliol Boat Club Journals 1837-1842, 1858-1866, 1858-1871
  • Clark’s Lists Vol 1 1520-90, Vol 3 1621-44, Vol 5 1674-98, Vol 6 1699-1719.