• Andy Ingham
    1
    Does anyone have any experience of disposing of old association reports? We have a 'glut' of old reports that nobody needs, or wants. Can we just throw these away? Do we need to shred them? Some go back to the 60s, and the data in there must be pretty much obsolete.
  • Alison Hodge
    150
    When we cleared a similar glut in our Association, we ensured that the following occurred -
    - a complete set was bound for Association records - this had been started some years ago and was brought up to date with good clean copies.
    - This complete set has been deposited in the County Archive along with other Assoc records.
    - a second complete set was collected, again for Assoc records but left unbound, stored in good clean condition. Anyone wishing to scan or make a copy can then do so as copying from bound volumes is difficult. This set is retained by our Assoc Archivist.
    - a 3rd complete set is kept for "routine" use by the Assoc Peal Secretary
    - the CCCBR Library holds a copy of all Assoc reports - contact Alan Glover (CCCBR Librarian) to make sure that set is complete and if not, help to do so
    - any spare copies were then offered to Assoc members, for a nominal donation to the BRF, eg through Assoc notices and with bundles taken to Assoc and Branch meetings
    - further spare copies were advertised to other collectors anywhere (there are quite a few) through any means possible - small ads, Ringing World, ringers chat lines, word of mouth, other Assoc Librarians and Archivists, CCCBR Librarian etc
    - (you could use this Forum to advertise spares now!)
    - this advertising also included requests for gaps to be filled in the sets to be retained - this did lead to several missing copies being donated to the sets
    - ultimately the residue was put in my recycling bins - don't overload them or the bin men complain! (your Assoc should already have agreed through its GDPR policy about open disclosure of the information in the reports, so there should not be a great problem)

    I hope this helps - good luck! It took time but was worthwhile. We raised some money for the BRF, established a clear policy on Assoc report retention so that complete will be retained and no gaps would occur in future. We also helped clear out various corners of ringing rooms, attics and garages!
  • Neal Dodge
    11
    Certainly don’t throw them out! You’ll find someone that’ll take them off your hands on the Bell Ringing Historians mailing list. Just send an email to

    I digitised our Guild’s a few years ago and have been invaluable for research and well used by others so I’d certainly recommend doing that.
  • Simon Linford
    308
    Do you think that if every single guild took responsibility for scanning/digitising their own back catalogue of annual reports, maybe sharing the work out amongst a number of their members, they would do it? The CC Library uses a lot of storage space to keep every single annual report of every affiliated society but that is not as useful to the ringing community as it would be if they were just all digital and online.
  • Alison Hodge
    150
    Simon - moving to the retention solely of electronic media needs a very big caution. Technology moves on so it probably would not be scanning just once, but repeatedly updating and overseeing the storage from one medium and / or format to the next technology as it becomes the new standard. Many individuals and organisations have found this out the hard way! We certainly have more than once, even at work in attempting to defend patent infringements!

    Who still has the readers for 5.25inch or 8inch floppy discs? Even 3 inch cassettes are a thing of the past and CDs and DVDs are going that way. It is the same with film and video cassettes - remember beta max, 8 and 16mm cine film?

    Yes, scanning and making available a copy is great. WDCRA did that - it took many, many months of a dedicated individual as all the reports had to be either cut up or carefully scanned sheet by sheet. He used a scanner of the era - this was about 1990s. However, they are not searchable and not as good quality as has now become available so really need doing again. Many reports can't be scanned by machine automatically as the pages are not in modern sizes. Copies also need checking carefully as pages can be missed, miss collated etc.

    A related question is society minutes and accounts. The old ones were often written in fountain pen in magnificent ledgers, some leather bound; yes they do smudge if wet but wetting is not a good idea for any medium! Records then moved to biro (some that age and fade) in cheap exercise books in which the paper yellows. More recently many records are on personal PCs and circulated by email. Even going back a few years, we find that there are gaps in the records as no hard or electronic copies were retained when secretaries handed over.

    So i say again, having electronic copies is great for routine use, but think carefully before relying on electronic copies ONLY of reports, minutes or anything that may be required in the longer term.
  • Sue Marsden
    33
    I have also scanned many of my Asscociation's reports - up to 1990. At my last place of work I had access to a very good photocopier/scanner. Many of the older reports (pre 1960) were stapled together and the staple had rusted, so I removed the staple and took them apart to scan. I also photocopied them, and as the page were sparate, I was able, after a bit of trial and error, to do back-to back copies so I was able to produce facsimile copies which looked almost identical to the real thing, as I wanted to have physical copies of each report as well as online ones. The scanned ones are in a drop-box file as PDFs. It took me about 15 minutes per report for the older , shorter ones. They are starting to get longer so the next few will take a bit more time, but it's not a huge job. We now need to decide how they are going to be made available online. Co-incidentally, the H&A workgroup discussed this recently, and I have nearly finished an article for the RW on this subject .
    I agree about minutes etc. I recently wanted to check our AGM minutes from 1990. They seem to have disappeared. Some have been sent to the county archive and others seem still to be with former General Secretaries. It's not exactly ideal. Unfortunately our Association library was disbanded many years ago.
  • David Struckett
    18
    I agree with Alison's list of prioriies - help assemble complete sets from the donations of old reports. It was amusing see in the opening comment that the 60's were 'old'! Most of the associations were formed well over a hundred years ago, and their early reports were magnificent compared to the 60's examples.
    Alison's reference to GDPR I think is un-necessary for printed reports because there are addresses only given for officers, and anyway, it's all a question when it was 'published' - most reports are now only used to check membership and perhaps ringing (peals) and tower affiliations. Not something that can or ever was kept secret! With digital records there are rules (some of which are legal requirements) that secretaries should be aware of, but our ringing records are usually made to 'show' our achievemrnts, and 'private information' like addresses and records of arguments are not usually made!
  • Oliver Lee
    21
    I am certainly very much in favour of digitalising reports and as a matter of fact this is something I have wanted to see happen for quite a while, not only will it make the historian's job a lot more easier when researching a particular tower or association but it might also help to foster an interest in people who regularly ring at these places.
  • Simon Linford
    308
    Could you post an example?
  • Alison Hodge
    150
    Simon - here is the pdf of a WDCRA scanned report. As I said before, we have these in this format from the first (1882) to 1996.
    i have picked 1922 at random, but obvious reasons. But also for the reasons below:

    Although people say that there is no problem with GDPR, we do need to be cautious and courteous. For example, there are names and addresses plus phone numbers that are still applicable for the people concerned, that were printed in relatively recent reports (eg in the 80s and 90s). At that time we were less concerned about GDPR. We understood that those personal details were only being included in printed reports distributed to members plus very limited other distribution. To make these reports openly available now is inappropriate, even if strictly not contravening any regulations. We need to ask members for their views; some members may not be content for such information to be released. When asked now for their personal details to be disclosed in a new document, they would definitely decline.
    Attachment
    WDRY1922 (2M)
  • Alison Hodge
    150
    And as a separate point about scanning, we should mention that there are "wand scanners". These, i have been advised, are quicker and easier to use, especially with bound books. However, i have heard that the quality is variable both of the scanned copy produced and the reliability / durability of the wand.

    Does anyone have any experience of using wand scanners?
  • Sue Marsden
    33

    This is one of the scanned reports
    Attachment
    1929-30 (no.23) (3M)
  • Alison Hodge
    150
    Sue - yes, this seems to me to have the same limitation as those done by WDCRA - they are not searchable. Readable, yes - great! But searchable would be so much better.
  • Sue Marsden
    33
    It's not easy to search the Ringing World either - I find it quite often fails to find things
  • John Harrison
    401
    that's because of flaws in the underlying text generated by the OCR. There's an explanation with examples and how to get round it in the CC advice for biographic research. Look in the section on search techniques in: http://bellringinghistory.org.uk/Biog_Advice.aspx
  • Sue Marsden
    33
    Might it be helpful to have that on the Online Publications part of the website?
  • Alison Hodge
    150
    Sue - Re searching The Ringing World (and I am digressing further from "old report disposal", the subject of this discussion). Are you aware of the excellent indexes that are available free for The Ringing World? These are invaluable for finding information in back issues. https://www.ringingworld.co.uk/news-articles/indexes.html
    I am sure the one for 2021 will appear soon.
  • Sue Marsden
    33
    Yes, but I am talking about very old Ringing Worlds, 1960s and older.
  • Sue Marsden
    33
    I know there is a cumulative index from 1911, but I usually am looking for peals or ringers in peals, and this is not covered in the index.
  • Alison Hodge
    150
    Then for that purpose, isn't Peal Base a better starting point? I don't ring peals or often search peals so someone else may offer better advice on that than me (and probably via a new topic, rather than this one headed Old report disposal).
  • Sue Marsden
    33
    No, because Pealbase only goes back at the moment to 1924, and does not show full details. You can't really search by tower, only by ringer.
  • Neal Dodge
    11

    All the Suffolk Guild ones are freely accessible here http://www.suffolkbells.org.uk/GuildReports.php
    They were captured using an ordinary flatbed scanner. The images were combined into PDFs, optimised including converting to B&W and running OCR so they are fully searchable.
    We haven’t had any issues with data and have been very positively received as a useful source for research.

    Here’s a comprehensive set of instructions for using a camera to capture a book which might be more appropriate for annual reports than a scanner.
    https://www.instructables.com/Bargain-Price-Book-Scanner-From-A-Cardboard-Box/
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