A proportion of what is received by archives services is fragile, sometimes to a point where it cannot be used, largely because of the effects of damp. For this reason a conservation section was established in the Wiltshire Record Office's early days. The staff now comprises two skilled and experienced conservators, both trained in the office. Their work involves a wide range of conservation techniques on paper and parchment documents, maps, seals, photographs and plans, by both traditional and more modern methods of repair. The aim is not to make the item 'good as new' and thus disguise any repair, but to make it usable without further damage.
As well as tackling the damage caused to documents by accident and neglect in the past we must ensure that the chances of further damage are reduced as far as possible. Good storage conditions are essential. The atmosphere in the strongrooms is monitored. Packaging materials are of a high standard. The Wiltshire and Swindon History Centre is equipped with modern smoke detector and intruder alarm systems, both connected to the emergency services, as well as CCTV facilities. A disaster plan has been drawn up and access to an emergency freeze-drying service is available.
Visitors need to provide some proof of identity to gain a reader's ticket to use the searchrooms. The issue of records into the searchrooms is regulated by a ticket system. Searchers are required to handle documents sensibly and with care. In this way records which have survived for hundreds of years may be hoped to survive for future generations to enjoy.
More details on the conservation team's work can be found here.