History on the move
It’s off the beaten path, but the Delta Museum and Archive Society hopes its new community archives will draw many through its doors to learn more about the history of their hometown.
The expanded archives will hold both the museum’s community records and the municipality’s records, as part of a new partnership between the society and Corporation of Delta. The newly renovated home was made possible thanks to a combination of municipal, provincial and federal funding totaling $675,000.
To get to the archives’ entrance, head to the back of the old Delta courthouse building on Clarence Taylor Crescent, neighbouring Municipal Hall.
Inside the building, immediately to your right is a new, climate-controlled storage area. The neutral colours of the room (off white walls, beige shelving units, grey floors) downplay the significance of what’s on the shelves and inside the drawers and folders – a rich collection of photographs, maps, family and community histories.
Archives attendant Catharine McPherson pulls open a drawer housing microfilm reels on which old newspapers are filed. Another drawer unveils rows and rows of cassette tapes with oral histories housed in alphabetical order, labeled with names that would be familiar to longtime Deltans such as George Tamboline and Doug Husband.
Archivist Brenda Richmond says they hope to convert the tapes to DVDs, and eventually put the oral histories online as downloadable files.
The storage room’s temperature and humidity is controlled to preserve the documents.
Richmond estimates the new storage room and its rolling shelves have space for up to five years of growth, less than anticipated, before they have to find storage off site. They are expecting 5,000 linear feet of records from the Corporation of Delta, and about 250 linear feet every year after.
Prior to Christmas all of the museum’s documents had been moved on site, in part thanks to volunteers who were invaluable to the move which required plenty of pre-planning and weeks of taking inventories, packing and filing, says Richmond.
The storage area is staff-access only, but the public can conduct research and relax in the Edgar Dunning Reading Room.
But with a new location comes a downside – will the public be able to find it?
The staff have a few strategies in mind for encouraging more people to use it.
The first is to make more information available online. New database software has been purchased and plans are to eventually have the public search records through the archive’s website, and even buy copies of historical photographs and maps.
The archives are located at 4450 Clarence Taylor Crescent. Regular hours are Tuesday to Saturday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. For more information, visit www.deltamuseum.ca