Beccy, Ned and I recently made the trip over to Manchester to visit colleagues at the Centre for Heritage Imaging and Collection Care (CHICC, formerly the CODEX Project) at John Rylands University Library. This was a repeat visit for me, as I had already visited the digitisation open day in April (see blog post), but this time there was more of an opportunity to meet staff and see behind the scenes, as this trip had been organised by Beccy and Project Manager Carol Burrows, as more of a chance for staff on the two parallel projects to get to know more about each other’s projects.

We started off in John Rylands’ very nice café with Carol and some of her team, comparing notes about life as a JISC Project, before Carol took us on a tour of the Project’s offices, digitisation studio and JRUL’s conservation studio. In the office, we were taken through the process of adding material to the LUNA repository and through much of the documentation which goes on throughout the life of a digitisation project. In the studio we were given a demonstration of the Traveller copy stand which the team use when digitising on site. This neat piece of kit folds up into a suitcase and can be set up ready for use within minutes.

The CHICC team have been working on some fascinating projects, including photographing Manchester Museum’s stuffed animal collection and digitising a collection of glass plate negatives which were discovered in the collections of JRUL. The negatives are the pre-First World War family photographs of a wealthy family. They depict life on a large country estate, with family members and assorted dogs, horses and motor cars as subjects. At the time of our visit the estate had not been identified, but further work, detailed on the CHICC blog, has revealed it to be Mere Hall.

Collection Care Intern Elaine Sheldon showed us the conservation work she had been doing on the glass plate negatives, in JRUL’s conservation studios. This has included cleaning the plates and reattaching loose emulsion, as well as creating archival storage boxes and individual sleeves for the collection, which previously resided in an assortment of boxes.

All in all, it was an interesting and informative day. As part of the LIFE-SHARE institutional case studies, I had looked at the digitisation services at JRUL to compare them with practices at the Borthwick Institute, so I was able to fill in one or two gaps in my knowledge. The quality of digitisation at JRUL is highly impressive.

PS ‘CHICC’ is pronounced ‘chic’ not ‘chick’!

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