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Subject: Housing county records

Housing county records

From: Deborah Rohan <deborah.rohan>
Date: Monday, March 25, 2002
Jo Anne Martinez-Kilgore <carino [at] nmfiber__com> writes

>I am interested in hearing from anyone who has worked with county
>records and has explored the option of utilizing modular vaults.
>Can they actually provide the environmental conditions conducive to
>proper records storage for a variety of media?  Are they cost
>effective? ...

I work for a somewhat larger local government unit, an English
county. We don't have modular vaults, but we do have ten brick-built
basement rooms at Shire Hall. We have a chronic damp problem, also
caused by deferred maintenance, and I have found the small strong
rooms easier to control than a larger space, e.g. a warehouse. Over
several years, we purchased eight small domestic dehumidifiers;
their humidistat control keeps RH within a reasonable range; though
there's little we can do about temperature, the brick walls at least
slow down cyclical temperature variations. Our strong rooms are
pretty fireproof, each having a metal fire door, though they might
suffer from water used to put out a fire.

We have enough staff to deal with basic security, i.e. to bring
items up to a search room so that the public never see our strong
rooms (it's also a good way to thank helpful organisations such as
the local Family History Society, allowing them to come Behind the
Scenes on rare occasions.) Until recently, small collections were
only used by specialists, and otherwise undisturbed from year to
year; but there is more "archive awareness", now, thanks to
televised history programs, etc. We have a County Archives
Repositories Network system that issues ID cards, issued on display
of proof of name and address; the card is usable at all the offices
in the Network. Even so, we try keep a particular watch on items
that are unusually "liftable": hand-drawn maps, period photographs,
rare topographical books, autographs, envelopes with old stamps.
Would it be worth your county archives doing a survey of their
collections from the point of view of a thief?

With regard to replacing PVC sleeves: would it be worth asking law
firms, etc., to sponsor a re-packaging program? We found that a
number of our visitors were willing to "Adopt an Archive", and get
their name put on a phase box or hand-made folder; indeed, they used
it as a means to thank us for offering a free service. Good luck
with any initiatives you undertake.

Deborah Rohan

                  Conservation DistList Instance 15:65
                  Distributed: Tuesday, March 26, 2002
                       Message Id: cdl-15-65-002
Received on Monday, 25 March, 2002

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