The Abbey Newsletter

Volume 18, Number 4-5
Aug-Sep 1994

An Archives Association With a 5-Year Plan and Its Own Conservation Service

The September IIC-CG Bulletin had a little notice about the Archives Association of British Columbia (AABC) renewing its contract with Conservation Coordinator Rosaleen Hill, who had spent the previous year assisting with disaster salvage, giving workshops, making site visits, writing a column in the AABC newsletter, and speaking at the AABC conference. Ms. Hill has kindly furnished more information about this unusual arrangement.

The AABC 5-Year Conservation Plan

In May 1992 the BC Conservation Service was created under the auspices of the Archives Association of BC... in part, to meet the objectives outlined in the BC component to the "Canadian Council of Archives Conservation Committee's 1989 National Strategic Conservation Plan."

In the BC submission to the 1989 National Strategic Conservation Plan two major conservation needs were identified for the province:

  1. The need for conservation assistance is acute, both in the area of information and training for incumbent staff and money for supplies, equipment and specialized expertise.
  2. The need to plan for future facilities that are environmentally sound to house the growing volume of archives, contingent on the provincial and federal governments to fund such major capital projects.

The conservation needs expressed in point 1 have been addressed by the AABC through the implementation of the BC Conservation Service....

Since the Conservation Service began May 1992, 91 institutions have requested BC Conservation Service site visits. To date (early September 1993), 65 institutions throughout the province have received site visits and facility assessment surveys.

5-Year Preservation Program

The 5-year preservation program centers around the development of an expanded education program and more on-site project specific training programs such as exhibition mounts and storage enclosure making. It is recognized that the success of any conservation/preservation program within an archival institution is primarily up to its staff--whether paid or volunteer. With the creation of an archives an institution has made an ongoing commitment to the access and preservation of that collection. The BC Conservation Service can best assist member institutions to meet the commitments to access and preservation by offering assistance where needed and, in cooperation with the AABC Education Coordinator, developing workshops and courses which meet those needs....

Project Description

The BC Archives Conservation Service is a conservation program managed by the Archives Association of British Columbia. It offers conservation advice and training to all members of the Association. Conservation facility assessments are conducted for any institution which is a member of the Association. The Conservation Service coordinates joint projects and arranges for the distribution of equipment owned by the Association. Also, in the event of a disaster, the Service offers assistance as required including on-site salvage assistance. It is not expected, at least for the near future, that conservation treatments will be part of the service.


The Conservation Service is currently jointly sponsored by the Federal Government through funds from the Canadian Council of Archives Conservation Grants program and the Provincial Government through funds from the BC Community Archives Advisory and Training Program. The Archives Association will contribute administrative time, meeting places and travel and accommodation subsidies if necessary. Fees to institutions are not planned for initial assessment surveys but will be considered for more involved procedures.


The Conservation Service staff consists of one full-time conservator position, the Conservation Coordinator. The Conservation Coordinator administers the program and carries out conservation work as required....


The Conservation Coordinator, due to the contractual nature of the program, works out of the home. This has proved to be very successful. The work situation has benefitted the Conservation service by reducing overhead and minimizing the need for clerical staff.


The Archives Association requests a grant of $32,525 from the Community Archives Advisory and Training program. The budget for the program will mostly consist of salary for the Conservation Coordinator. Other costs will include travel and accommodation, office supplies, communications such as fax and telephone and professional development....

Training and Education

The Conservation Coordinator offers an information service to all members. This consists of suppliers of conservation and disaster prevention materials and equipment, lists of practicing conservators in the province and access to the Coordinator's personal conservation library. Newsletter articles are submitted to the AABC Newsletter under the "Lasting Impressions" column. These articles provide members with up-to-date conservation information and inform members of new Conservation Service initiatives.

The Conservation Coordinator offers assistance to the Education Coordinator, as requested, in the planning and review of seminars on preventive conservation. The Conservation Coordinator also teaches conservation courses, such as "Principles of Archival Conservation," as required by the Education Coordinator....

5-Year Plan Goals

Each AABC institutional member should have:

  1. a conservation facility assessment completed and begin initiating recommendations;
  2. a conservation collection survey identifying priority collections for rehousing, reformatting and treatment (if necessary);
  3. written and implemented a conservation policy and procedures;
  4. committed staff and volunteer time and resources to workshop and course training;
  5. an institution-specific disaster plan;
  6. an institution-specific preservation plan outlining short and long term goals;
  7. access to new technological/conservation information... through personal communication with the conservation coordinator, newsletter articles, technical bulletins;
  8. integrated preservation activities into overall archival practice;
  9. access to a range of conservation workshops;
  10. access to province-wide microfilming projects and other projects as developed; and
  11. written and implemented exhibition policy (for those institutions which exhibit material).

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