The majority of our volunteers work on cataloguing our images and documents, so that they can be freely accessed and enjoyed by people around the world. We are not far from achieving the milestone of 60,000 items on the catalogue, which represents thousands of hours of work. Our new status as a nationally accredited archive would not have been possible without the dedication of our volunteers.
These volunteers regularly uncover items that are particularly interesting, funny, sad or unique. One of the highlights for me this year was when Ian discovered the “Love Language of Stamps” after noticing that one woman had the peculiar habit of sticking their stamps on their postcards in a certain way when sending them to the same gentleman. Ian wrote a blog about it – on Valentine’s Day of course! – which you can read here.
When you find a spare moment, take a look at the bottom of our website homepage and you will see a live count of items on the catalogue. You can also see the huge contribution that volunteers have made to other aspects of the Archive, such as cataloguing our library books and writing articles that enhance the information that we provide for the public on our website. And they show no signs of slowing down!
Our volunteers also help us in other ways. We certainly benefit from their help, expertise and enthusiasm in engaging the public in the collections and helping us reach out to people. Ioulia used her graphic design skills to create a stunning banner design for our Quern to Computer project. Originally created to feature in a booklet, we will feature it at a much larger scale in a new exhibition at Reading Museum that we are currently putting together – details to be announced shortly! I’m sure you’ll agree it is quite beautiful and we hope will attract the attention of Museum visitors.
So thank you to all our volunteers, whether you are currently working with us or have done so in the past. You play a fundamental role in shaping the Archive and taking us forward so that we can continue to offer a safe home for the world's milling heritage and you should be proud of your achievements.