Welcoming visitors back to the record office and improving our catalogue

We are so pleased to be inviting customers back to the record office when we re-open at 10 o’clock on Tuesday 13 April. As you might expect there are a few changes to the way we are operating at the moment…

If you are thinking of visiting the record office, one of the main changes is that you will need to book in advance and let us know everything you want to look at so we can have it read for you in advance. In my recent #ArchivesfromHome post I mentioned that we had made some changes to our online catalogue, mostly relating to new content that has been added. We have also made several changes to the way the catalogue works that we hope will make it easier for you to find what you are looking for:

1. Revised Advanced Search options

  • Any Text: searches anything in the catalogue, but will only look for the exact word or phrase you enter
  • Reference Number: if you know the collection or series add an * to see everything that begins with that reference, e.g. D1828/A/PI/1/*
  • Date: search for a specific year or range of years
  • Author: for books and articles in the local studies library
  • Archive Collection Creator: the name of an organisation, business, etc. who created the archive, e.g. Parish of Matlock, Ripley Urban District Council, Nightingale family
  • Organisation type: see below
  • Image available online: select ‘Yes’ to see entries with an image in the catalogue

2. Summary of archive collections by organisation type

Perhaps if you’re not sure of the name of the organisation, business, etc. you are looking for or just want to see what is available, you can search for a list of the archive collections available using the new alphabetical list of organisation types.

You can combine this with a search term in the Any Text and/or Archive Collection Creator field – for example searching for schools in Glossop or textile businesses in Belper.

3. Single-line overview of search results

We have reduced the amount of information in the initial search results. The main reason we did this is to encourage people to click an entry in the search results to then see the full catalogue description as it was far from clear that more information was available in the catalogue.

We know there are still improvements needed here, and this is one of several things we are still working on.

Did you know you can click a column heading to sort the results? For example, chronologically by clicking ‘Date’ or alphabetically by clicking ‘Title’

4. Changes to the summary of an archive collection

We arrange the archives according to the body that created and/or collated them, and each individual collection has a summary including the collection reference number, title, covering dates, creator name, summary of contents, extent or quantity of material, a brief history of the organisation, a note of when and often from whom the records were deposited or donated, plus a number of other.

Each summary includes a URL that provides a list of the entries in the catalogue for that particular collection.

You can also click the title in any catalogue entry (not just the collection summary) to see an organised overview of the whole catalogue for the collection you are are viewing (see 5. The “tree”…)

We are also working on adding Place and Name indexing to the collection summaries and other entries so you can find other related material (see 6. Places and Names)

5. The “tree” – an organised overview of the archive

This view of the catalogue for a particular archive collection isn’t actually new, except that it now shows the date as well.

However, if you have used it before it is very helpful as helps you to navigate the whole collection in one go with the entries grouped into categories and sometimes sub-categories (we tend to call them series and sub-series).

Each category can be expanded and collapsed using the + and – buttons. If you can’t expand the list anymore then you are probably looking at the description for an individual record rather than a series or subseries.

Click the text to see the full catalogue entry for any of the entries in this view – you can still see a mini “tree” view from here showing the context, i.e. collection, series, subseries, etc. of the entry as well.

6. Place and Name Indexing

If you see an entry that has a separate Places or Names heading underneath (like the Sudbury Rural District Council example above), you can click the link under that heading to see more information about that Place or Name, along with a further link to all other catalogue entries indexed for the same place and name.

At the moment, very few of the archive catalogue entries are indexed in this way, but almost all of the local studies catalogue entries are.

We are also still working on how to make the Places and Names searchable through the main catalogue, but in the meantime you can try them out from here:

Search Places – Derbyshire places will appear like the example to the left, but there are lots of non-Derbyshire places in the index too.

Search Names – This includes people, families, businesses and other organisations, and we are working to include more detailed information too.

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