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Clean out those cupboards

Packaging knowledge, skills, documentation and other “hidden treasures" should be passed on to future generations, says the IOP’s packaging training manager

During September the British Library announced the results of “Hidden Treasures Brought to Life”, a national competition designed to unearth lesser known gems from libraries across the British Isles. Winning awards included the Arbuthnott Manuscripts from Renfrewshire, detailing a blood-curdling rite of excommunication, the diaries of William Searell, who lived in rural Caernarfonshire in the 1840s, and the Dorset Federation of Women’s Institutes War Record Book 1939-1945 – a compelling snapshot of life on the Home Front. These treasures will be turned into ‘virtual texts’ to allow all to see at the touch of a keyboard. There are some examples of the Virtual Text technology that will be used on the British Library’s website and I encourage everyone to take a look.

The packaging industry has its own cornucopia of treasures in the Museum of Brands, Packaging and Advertising in London, featuring over 12,000 original items from the Robert Opie Collection. These give a wonderful insight into the industry’s history, and it is fascinating to see how much things have changed as new technology and materials have become available, but, on the other hand, how the industry’s central mission, to protect and promote products, remains intact. The website has more details.

Beyond this IOP: The Packaging Society is issuing a plea for you to go hunting for yet more buried treasure. Early next year, we will move into our new building in Grantham, housing an excellent library. We will house current textbooks and information, and already have a good number of “historical texts” providing a valuable insight into packaging practice over the decades. But we want more. We are sure many companies will have books, catalogues, training and technical manuals gathering dust.

It’s important to capture and preserve this information. Knowledge is a precious commodity and we must ensure we don’t let it drift away.

Companies come and go, and individuals retire or move on. In the future, if someone wants to know how a Mennen side seam works, or how the bird swing in a glass bottle occurs, we want to be sure there’s at least one place they can find the answer.

So how can you help? Look through those cupboards and shelves and if you see anything you think might fit the bill, give me a call (T: +44 (0)1476 514590; Those hidden packaging treasures might just see the light of day in the future.

Ian Morris of IOP; The Packaging Society