With strict guidelines now in place regarding preservation and storage, the Archive Conservation Team has an on-going project to survey all the archival holdings, box by box, held within the strongrooms of Wiltshire and Swindon Archives.
Since 1998, a conservator has dedicated one day a week to systematically assess the contents of each archive box and, at the time of writing (2008), nearly fifteen hundred boxes have been inspected. The survey is a unique opportunity to record and evaluate the condition of the contents; to discover if unsuitable packaging has been used, such as leather board or old, acidic envelopes; look for signs of mould or insects; note whether items are fit for production; any conservation requirements and if boxes are over-full or need to be more economically packed.
Archive conservator checking boxes in a strongroom
Unprotected seals, loose photographs and items such as folded maps that may be better stored some other way are also assessed. All details are recorded. Some packaging or re-packaging may be undertaken on the spot by the surveying conservator or strongroom staff will incorporate work into their re-packaging programme.
The inclusion of a Document Reception, Drying and Isolation Room (where damp or mouldy items may be temporarily stored), and a Cleaning Room in the new History Centre; facilities not available in our previous accommodation, means we can now survey and monitor incoming acquisitions and carry out drying, cleaning or infestation treatments before items enter the strongrooms.
Document cleaning room