|Image via the BBC|
Last Tuesday, the Library Trainees found themselves inside a big blue box containing all of time and space, floating outside this galaxy. That's perhaps a slight exaggeration, but as they visited the BBC's purpose-built archive centre at Perivale, containing over 12 million documents, radio programmes, television programmes, photos, sheet music and vinyl collections, it's only a slight one.
|One of these people is not a library trainee.|
Located in a former Cadbury's factory, the facility has been constructed to order to deal with the unique needs of this astoundingly comprehensive archive. Nine climate controlled vaults, each with individually adjustable temperature and relative humidity, take up much of the space, filled with rows and rows of rolling stacks - nearly 60 miles worth, if put end to end.
|Image via M&H Online|
The archive aims not only to store for posterity the different forms of media produced by the BBC, but it is also a working resource providing information and items for use or research - if a programme or documentary shows a clip from a BBC programme, it has almost certainly been sought out and copied by the industrious elves working away deep within the Archives. Specialized researchers also respond to queries about footage and sounds from the ridiculous to the sublime ("footage of the Titanic sailing into New York" was one example of the former).
|Image via Bruynzeel|
Growing at a rate of over 6000 hours of radio and over 1500 hours of television every month, and containing everything from early cylinder recordings to the entire back catalogue of Bill and Ben the Flower Pot Men, the archive is astonishing in its breadth and depth.
Guardian Tech Weekly podcast about the Archives: http://www.guardian.co.uk/technology/blog/audio/2010/aug/18/bbc-archive-roly-keating-windmill-road