State-of-art archive moves step nearer

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WORK to transform York’s famous archives dating back to the 12th century could begin in November after it was announced firms are being invited to bid to carry out the work.

An invitation to tender to create new public spaces and build a £1.7m state-of-the-art store at York Explore Library Learning Centre has now been issued and they have until September 27 to submit their bids to York Council.

The scheme is part of an over-arching project made possible by a £1.6m grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund. The first floor of the Grade II listed library will be revamped to provide space for the archives and local and family history. A climate-controlled extension will be built to house the city’s records.

The archive contains documents dating back to 1155, including manuscripts recording visits from Richard III and the Siege of York during the English Civil War. Other treasures include a map of Dringhouses and the Knavesmire dating from the 1620s, and photographs of the Hungate slums in the 1930s. The new store will provide improved conditions to preserve the fragile papers, parchment, maps and photographs.

The cabinet member for leisure, culture and tourism, Coun Sonja Crisp, said: “We know that customers are interested to hear about how the building work will impact on the rest of York Explore. An ambitious building project like this always involves some disruption, but the work has been specially designed in phases to minimise the impact on the library.”

Original documents will remain in storage until the works are complete, but many books and microfilms will still be available. A selection of the most used resources will move to the ground floor of York Explore from October 7. and online newspaper archives will be available for free at any library.