SWiB Preservation Policy Statement


1. Introduction
1.1 The preservation of documents is central to the work of the Archive. The need to preserve the region’s visual archival heritage not only for the present generation but for the future informs decisions about storage, packaging and handling, customer services, staff training and disaster planning, as well as the Service’s conservation and digitisation programmes.

2. Storage
2.1 All records for permanent preservation received by the Archive will be stored in secure storage intended to conform with BS 5454: 2000 (British Standard for the Storage and Exhibition of Archival Documents). Temperature and humidity will be regularly monitored, and fire and intruder detection systems will be regularly maintained.
2.2 Documents will be packaged according to their physical needs and stored on shelves or in storage units appropriate to their physical format.
2.3 Particularly flammable or otherwise hazardous materials (e.g. nitrate
film) will never be stored in secure storage areas containing traditional archive formats in controlled conditions elsewhere.
2.4 Access to secure storage areas will be strictly controlled in accordance with the Archive’s written security procedures, and any access by contractors or other outside personnel will be in accordance with the written procedures for such access.

3. Conservation
3.1 All documents accepted for permanent preservation will be assessed for their physical condition before they are placed in secure storage. Immediate remedial action may include drying, cleaning, removing metal clips, repackaging and general stabilisation.
3.2 Documents requiring active conservation will be assessed and prioritised for treatment by the Archivist. Assessment will take into consideration physical condition, expected frequency of use, the existence of copies and intrinsic historical value.
3.3 All active conservation will be carried out by staff competent in the appropriate techniques. Conservation treatments will always be sympathetic to documents, and no treatment will be undertaken which is likely to remove, diminish, falsify or obscure evidential value. Detailed records of all treatments will be maintained and all treatments
will be reversible.
3.4 The Archive will ensure that conservation staff in general are regularly made aware of issues concerning conservation.
3.5 The Archive will maintain a reprographic programme for making substitute copies of documents especially liable to damage through frequent use. Reprographic techniques will be via digitisation.

4. Document Handling
4.1 Proper handling is essential to the care and preservation of documents. We will ensure through training, advice and supervision that documents are not subject to unnecessary wear and tear or bad handling either by staff or users.
4.2 All new staff will be trained in appropriate handling techniques and other staff will also receive periodic instruction. Guidance on document handling will be given at the point of induction and sustained throughout their ongoing training.
4.3 Staff will actively promote awareness of proper document handling by making users aware of the issues, by vigilance in the public searchrooms and by example generally.

5. Public Use
5.1 The Archive Service aims to make documents as freeing accessible as possible, either as originals or in substitute form, in accordance with the principles set down in the Public Access Policy Statement.
5.2 In those cases where the physical condition of a document makes public access inadvisable we will without delay explain our reasons for withholding the document, and will, where appropriate, arrange for active conservation or the making of a substitute copy.
5.3 Where a substitute copy of a document exists, users will normally be expected to consult the copy in preference to the original except where special considerations apply (e.g. the visual impairment of the user, or the need to study watermarks or other physical characteristics only visible on the original).
5.4 We will enable our users to obtain at reasonable cost copies of documents held by the Archive Service where format and physical condition permit. We will make such copies by photocopying, photography and digital scanning, as appropriate.
5.5 We will encourage the public to make the most effective use of paperbased and electronic finding aids in order to help them judge which documents they need to consult, and to prevent the unnecessary use and removal from secure storage of documents irrelevant to a particular enquiry.

6. Disaster Plan
6.1 We will maintain and regularly update a disaster plan. All staff will be trained in the appropriate action to take in the event of a major emergency affecting the Service and its holdings. We will take all reasonable measures to ensure that no such emergency occurs.

7. Promoting Best Practice
7.1 We will advise similar community based projects on appropriate materials and techniques for the preservation of records.
7.2 We will encourage best practice among outside organisations and private owners by providing advice on the care and handling of archival records.

8. Policy Development
8.1 This policy will be reviewed in five years.

SD / 13/07/2009


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