The Ladybird Archive is part of the Museum of English Rural Life (MERL), University of Reading. The artworks and books are on loan to the university, so long as they are kept archived behind the scenes. MERL do not own these artworks, Ladybird Books Co. still own them – we are simply keeping them. There are over 700 boxes of artwork that have to be checked, counted and re-boxed. The re-boxing process also includes writing what is in each box, and joining boxes together if there is space, or if the boxes are broken. This was to be done with clean and dry hands, in a clean environment. If there were any artworks that were stuck, my supervisor at MERL took them apart, to ensure that no damage was done to the artworks. Each week, for anywhere between two and five hours, this is my role.
The first week I was very excited to be able to handle the artworks. I sorted the boxes that held the original artworks for The Enormous Turnip, through to Goldilocks and the Three Bears, The Magic Porridge Pot and The Story of Marco Polo, along with many others.
The second week I was able to view the archive where the boxes are being held. This was a wonderful experience as I had never been in an archive before, especially not one that I was working on. In the three weeks that volunteers have been working on the archive, two shelves were cleared as boxes were condensed.
All artworks in the photographs are credited to Ladybird Books.
We even included the packing process on Twitter for the Explore Archives week:
The volunteers’ repacking game is on point today. #explorearchives #ladybirdarchive pic.twitter.com/7bULxhngTB
— UoR Art Collections (@UniRdg_ArtCol) November 23, 2017