Site visits: History of Advertising Trust

At the Ghostsigns launch in March I met Chloe Veale, archivist/curator at the History of Advertising Trust, who was kind enough to arrange a tour for a team of Guardian librarians, in the interests of career development and an exchange of ideas. Although the roles of archivist and librarian don’t always converge, there is common ground. Many of the basic tools and skills are the same; and HAT deals mainly in print advertising – the ad industry was sparked by the development of newspapers – so the connection is even more obvious here.

  • HAT makes acquisitions when approached by a client – either a full collection or single items
  • Each acquisition is detailed in a list, giving some background and itemising the contents (each with an acquisition number)
  • A catalogue is then created in spreadsheet when there is time (one for each collection, plus the HAT collections made up of items donated individually)
  • Can currently search each database, and search for a brand across all databases
  • In the process of moving all databases to Calm, to enable better searching and uniformity
  • Archive consists of print advertising – tear sheets, guard books from agencies and brands – jingles on disk, and 25,000 TV ads on VHS/older format, plus lithos (Jacobs biscuits)
  • Have to keep old machinery to run pre-VHS cassettes, no money/time to transition everything to digital but are doing it piecemeal as queries come up
  • No systematic process of digitisation – do it piecemeal when answering queries or when a client requests and pays for it; too expensive to do it across the board
  • Get about 1,500 queries a year, lots of interest from students – will answer individual queries, or allow visits if the query is broad and will be worthwhile
  • 8-10 paid staff, plus occasional interns and 12 volunteers
  • Have a 2-year grant to set up Moodle, an education online learning platform for teachers/students of creative media
  • Want to launch their gallery and encourage journos to use it as a paid resource –  funding comes from donors, looking to develop new revenue streams

Recommended sites:

Reflections on visit to HAT:

  • Digitisation is desirable but realistically too expensive and time-consuming for many organisations
  • Despite the difference in size between HAT and the Guardian, problems are similar – funding and support for our industry, finding new revenue streams, more work with fewer staff
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