By the start of February we had managed to organise Sandi’s photographs into seven boxes (and seven potential subgroups) and we were ready to move into Liverpool Central Library. With help from Helena Smart, this transition, from Sandi’s to the library was completed with ease, Central Library would be my home for the next 10 weeks and home to Sandi’s archive hopefully for the next 10 decades.
Before I had started the project, Tim and Sandi had outlined some of the goals they had for the 3 months I would be working with them, both specific to the project in terms of online access and digitisation, and in Sandi’s case some personal goals or ways she thought the archive might be utilised. With these goals in mind, it was key to ensure that the archive was a manageable size – we needed to be realistic about what could be catalogued and digitised in the time we had. These thoughts were echoed by Helena Smart and the first task once in the library was to repeat the process I had gone through at Sandi’s, but this time giving much more thought to things like, how the photographs would fit into the structure of the archive, how likely it was that someone else would want to see the photograph and if we would realistically be able to fill in the gaps of information that were missing, i.e. dates, locations and the names of the people in the photographs.
The second stage of the appraisal proved to be a much lengthier process than the first, as I began to look through the photographs we had brought over in more detail, it became clear that the labelling done over the years hadn’t always been accurate – or the photographs had been moved around. In some cases the wallet would be labelled as containing photographs from one event and would contain them from three or more events, in others the wallet would say it had photographs from three events and would only contain photographs from one. It was again, a slow process but the time I’d had to think of how to structure the archive made it much less daunting. Taking one box (sub-group) at a time, I created a much more thorough spreadsheet and began to make decisions about what was definitely going to be listed on the catalogue. Given that we wanted to digitise as much of the archive as possible, even after deciding that photographs from a particular event were relevant to the archive, there still needed to be a second stage of appraisal – a reel of camera film normally takes around 30 photographs, if Sandi had used one or two reels of film at an event, we were left with anywhere from 30-60 photographs from an event, which was far too many! With a few exceptions, we decided to limit the photographs from each event to between 8 and 15.
I decided pretty early on to organise the archive thematically and although there were some slight changes within these themes (specifically within music, which I opted to break down into three themes) the main structure set out from the initial sort was used and I was able to organise the photographs into 9 sub-groups, which can be seen on the CALM system in the photograph below.