The Centre for Cultural Collections and several Libraries across the borough can provide you with free access to past copies of local newspapers. The publications are stored on microfilm but please don’t let this put you off as staff are available to help you get to grips with the microfilm readers! The titles that you can access specifically at the CfCC include the Bury Guardian, The Bury Times and the Manchester Mercury. For a complete list of the titles that we hold and where they are located within Bury Libraries please follow this link:
The negative copies of these microfilms are stored within the Archive. As the paper copies of many of these newspapers no longer exist it is very important that these reels are preserved.
Now I would like to describe how what started as a simple request from the Archivist to repackage the reels into smaller storage boxes soon turned into my first major repackaging, preservation and cataloguing exercise!
Although we knew that we held the negatives of these newspapers and an informal document listing the titles and dates exists, they are not on our cataloguing system, CALM. So my first task has been to make a detailed inventory of each reel. This has involved recording the publication dates shown on the box and then checking each reel to ensure that the information on the film corresponds.
Then each reel is wrapped with an individual reel wrap label, which is made from acid free card. This details the title of the publication and the catalogue number that has been assigned. The whole reel is then repackaged in an acid free box that is labelled with the publication title, dates, catalogue number, reel number and box details where it will be stored. This is proving to be a time consuming exercise but well worth the effort as several errors have already been detected and the resource has already proved to be more accessible for our new HLF project Bury Remembers the First World War. As purely a housekeeping exercise for the Archive it has allowed us to introduce a secondary shelving system which has freed up some much- needed space.
This is an ongoing project for me and is requiring a lot of time and concentration; there are over 370 reels for the Bury Times alone! It’s fantastic to have been given responsibility for a whole collection as I’m developing lots of new skills and learning new techniques.