Archive Collections Condition Survey

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. 

Man in a blue lab coat examining documents in a box. The box is sitting on a table, there are more boxes on shelves in the background.    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.

 A room with white walls and a green floor. There are several tables in the room, one table has a clear dome with tubing attached on it.      Document cleaning room