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Subject: Water pipes in archival storage

Water pipes in archival storage

From: Liz Bowerman <liz.bowerman>
Date: Tuesday, February 21, 2006
Bruce Bumbarger <bbumbarg [at] haverford__edu> writes

>Our Special Collections Department has been offered space for the
>offsite storage of archival material, books and perhaps some artwork
>(primarily paintings) in a building adjacent to our library. The
>space is on the lowest of the structure's three floors. ...
>...

If the archives and books that you are going to store in the
repository are not frequently accessed, you could consider vacuum
packing them in conservation grade polyester bags. That wouldn't
make a leak less likely or less harmful to the fabric of the
building, but your books and archives would be protected.

Vacuum packing also provides security, and makes the collection more
compact.

I know of a busy Land Registry records section with frequently
accessed records who have sewage pipes running above their "custom
built" repository--they decided that vacuum packing was the only
safe option. Although vacuum packing was labour intensive to begin
with, the feedback that I have had is that the pay off in terms of
ease of mind, was well worth the effort; and even though the
collection is current records that are accessed unpredictably, the
amount of time and money spent repackaging is acceptable. They also
find that the system enhances security--helps to track the retrieval
and replacement of records.

However if you like the sound of this option, I would advise you to
consult with an archive conservator, that vacuum packing is
appropriate for the archive materials that you have; for example you
might need to consider whether or not attachments could cause
damage; how/if brittle paper could be vacuum packed; and if you
should interleave very acid papers with buffered paper. You would
need to make sure that you pick a vacuum packer that is the right
size for your bigger items.

In the UK these vacuum packing systems and pure polyester bags are
called Archipress. I don't know how you would find them in the US
but it may help you to track them down to know that vacuum packing
is often used in the short term, together with oxygen scavengers, to
create an anoxic environment that kills off insects.

You would need to consider how long it would take to package the
collection and how/who would deal with re-packing items that have
been accessed.

Liz Bowerman
Collections Advisor
CyMAL
(Museums Archives Libraries, a division of Welsh Assembly
    Government)
Unit 10
The Science Park
Aberystwyth
Ceredigion SY23 4AS


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                  Conservation DistList Instance 19:43
                  Distributed: Monday, March 13, 2006
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Received on Tuesday, 21 February, 2006

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