A shaft of sunlight reflected off the shiny new building that is the new home of Herefordshire Archive & Record Centre. After the cramped facilities at their former premises in Harold Street, I was immediately struck by the spacious entry hall and warm welcome from Rhys Griffith, senior archivist, and his team on my first visit there since it opened earlier this month.
I was expecting to spend the first hour or so finding my way around, but was pleasantly surprised to discover that the search facilities and procedures are largely as they were in the old building. Consequently I was able to order up a couple of documents straight away which were delivered promptly from the store.
I learned from Rhys that staff and volunteers had done a great deal of cleaning, cataloguing and repackaging some of the collections which was immediately apparent in the diocesan records I was researching. The battered old index folders have been replaced and are easily accessible on the curved shelving unit.
Large research tables, comfortable and adjustable wheeled chairs, and plenty of laptop sockets provide good working environment in which to examine documents and make notes. The light in the room is excellent. One side of the search room is largely glass, but is cleverly shaded on the outside and screened on the inside to avoid direct sunlight hitting the research tables. This creates a sense of spaciousness in the search room. A separate area housing the film and fiche readers sits between the search room and entrance hall and has lower lighting to facilitate easier viewing at the machines.
A new vending machine dispensing coffee and other drinks, kindly provided by the Friends of Herefordshire Archives, is in an area off the entrance hall with chairs and tables for researchers to relax and take refreshment. Lockers and loos are close by and it is only a few steps between each area making it easily accessible on one level.
One thing hasn’t changed – the staff are extremely helpful and very efficient, and deal patiently with many enquiries from novice and experienced researchers alike.
Despite the extended closure preparing for the move, the end result has certainly been worth the wait.
A sunny experience indeed.Posted in Archives, Blog Tagged archives, documentary records, hereford, herefordshire, house history, record offices