You may have read our recent blog posts by our volunteer, Grace, about foraging for archival treasure in the David Fickling Collection.  I thought it would be a nice idea to continue the story.   
Stuck to the wall above my desk is a postcard of David Fickling. I have no idea where it came from but it was there when I arrived at Seven Stories in February.  It shows David Fickling pointing at us readers - ‘Readers: your DFB needs you’. I think this is definite incentive to keep on cataloging: the DFB collection needs me, and our volunteers too. 

David Fickling is a big name in Children’s literature, he is an editor and his name has lent itself as an imprint for both Scholastic and Random House. But, in 2014 David Fickling Books became an independent publishing house.  David seems to be a magnet for talent, he and his team have an eye for spotting amazing books and authors. 
Many of our collections at Seven Stories are from authors and illustrators which is fantastic but this collection shows another side to the story.  It helps to complete the picture, offering us a different insight into how those pencil scribbles, research materials and early drafts develop into neat more complete stories, and how an editor contributes to the creation of the final book that will fill the shelves of bookshops, homes and libraries. David Fickling’s collection represents a large number of author’s work including proof and draft manuscripts, often with editor’s comments.  It’s a goldmine of information and presents a great cross section of the industry in representing approximately 75 different writers.  As the collection unfolds we’re hoping to find cross over material with some of our other collections. However, we still have a lot of work to do in managing all of this information. I haven't even opened the boxes of correspondence that Grace discussed in her last post.

There are currently forty two archive boxes in the David Fickling Collection and as I work through each box the number is steadily increasing.  It is vast, and one of our largest collections at Seven Stories. The collection arrived earlier in the year and since then has undergone serval stages of archival processing by two of our wonderful volunteers.  
Firstly, Grace listed the materials and created a spreadsheet of content so that Kris (our Archivist) and I (the Collections and Exhibitions Assistant) had a better idea of what we had.  Listing a collection as it arrives makes it easier not only to locate material, but to see patterns of how materials are organised, what themes occur and what types of documents make up the bulk of the collection.  This information makes it easier to start thinking about how the final catalogue will be structured.
Then Jen came along as a student placement from Newcastle University's International Centre for Cultural and Heritage.  She used Grace’s original list to repackage everything. This is a very important stage, the original files and boxes need to be replaced with acid free materials, all corrosive metals are replaced with brass paperclips and the original file labels are recorded.  
Jen lending a hand and sorting the David Fickling Collection
Whilst repackaging Jen also reorganised.  She organised all of the files alphabetically by author, and arranged work by each author chronologically. This was a huge task and Jen spent much of her time at Seven Stories surrounded by files and boxes.  She also made the next step in processing much easier.  Jen had created a structure! 
All I have to do now is work my way through the lovely neat repackaged boxes and add everything to CALM.  For those of you not familiar with our archive-y terminology CALM (Collections Management for Archives, Libraries and Museums) is a massive database where we record everything that happens to our collections and every exhibition loan that comes through our door.  It’s also what we use to catalogue our collections.  
When we start to catalogue it’s really important that we keep people in mind.  It’s not just us archive-y folk and our volunteers that will use this catalogue but you -the researchers, the academics, and the enthusiasts - and our Seven Stories teams, our curators and our learning and participation team. There are a lot of uses for a collection like David Fickling’s and we need to have an idea of what they are, and what language and structures we need to use to make all of the important information easy to find.  At Seven Stories nothing sits on a shelf for too long. We believe that all of this work created and gathered by incredibly creative people should be shared with other creative people but this has to start with a comprehensive catalogue.
So, at the moment I am twenty-five boxes in and working hard.  It’s great fun to catalogue a collection like David Fickling’s because there is so much variation between files and though I know what is coming in a very practical sense (thanks to Grace’s listings and Jen’s labelling), there are still fun surprises. 
Original artwork by Paddy Mounter and book proofs for Tony Mitton's Riddledy Piggledy
When the catalogue is finished it’ll be made available online. However, if there are any interested researchers out there please do get in touch.

If you’re late to the exploration of the David Fickling collection check out the other diary entries written by our volunteer Grace.
Next week is The National Archives Explore your Archive Week.  So come explore our archives and join in the #exploreachives conversation.  Join us on Twitterand Instagram using the handle @7stories and on Facebook by searching for 'Seven Stories, National Centre for Children's Books'.
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Seven Stories was able to support the acquisition from David Fickling through support from a Heritage Lottery Fund ‘Collecting Cultures’ grant, which has been awarded to Seven Stories in recognition of the museum’s national role in telling a comprehensive story of modern British children’s literature. For more information on our HLF Collecting Cultures project see: