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Exploring Kresen Kernow

Kresen Kernow is home to the world’s largest collection of documents, books, maps and photographs of Cornwall’s history. So large in fact that there are 14 miles of shelving storing over 1.5 million items.

Not long after I joined the Redruth Town Council Engagement Team our team had the unique experience of exploring behind the scenes of Kresen Kernow. As well as visiting the exhibition spaces and library, we also got to take a tour of the digitization suite and temperature-controlled archive room. Although we couldn’t pick up and look at any of the documents during the tour, our guide explained we could by simply booking a research session.

Around a month later I was researching traditional Christmas Carols for the Town Christmas window display when I realised that I may be able to have a look at some original carol books at Kresen Kernow. So, I searched for traditional Cornish Carol books on the Kresen Kernow website and was delighted to find that they had several different documents available to view. Within thirty minutes, I picked the documents I wanted to view and booked a research session via email. The staff were extremely friendly and helpful. They even let me add an extra book to my order the day before my visit.

I arrived about fifteen minutes before my session partly due to excitement but mainly because this was my first visit and I needed to register as a member. After filling out a short form I headed upstairs to the research room where the books I had picked out were waiting for me. I then spent the morning looking through the Carol books. Completely fascinated, I had hardly noticed that three hours had surpassed, and whilst I still had an hour left on my session It was time to head back to the office and share my findings with the team.

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