The intention and the purpose of the Archives Centre is to collect and preserve archival material (meeting the criteria of our collecting policy), as far as possible in perpetuity for the use of present and future generations.
The purpose of this policy is to state and communicate the principles that guide the preservation activities of the Archives Centre.
This preservation policy is a general statement, which is complemented by detailed documents as follows:
Conservation involves the protection of archives by minimal physical and chemical
treatments designed to resist further deterioration and to make material available for use.
Preservation is the passive protection of archives in which no physical or chemical treatment is used.
The Archives Executive Committee, which oversees the activities of the Archives Centre, has approved the preservation policy.
All staff of the Archives Centre assist in implementing the preservation policy as appropriate to their roles and responsibilities.
The Conservator takes responsibility for co-ordinating preservation activities.
Preservation is a fundamental responsibility through which the Archives Centre ensures the
continued availability and authenticity of the archival records that it holds in trust for
present and future generations. The Archives Centre recognises that preservation is a pervasive
function and works to ensure that it remains an integral part of all archive activities from
acquisition through to access.
Without preservation there can be no access.
The Archives Centre will, at least annually, review its Conservation and Cataloguing program and include actions/plans having an impact on the preservation of the collections as a whole.
All new members of staff will be given preservation training, and appropriate refresher training will be provided for existing staff.
The Archives Centre will conform to relevant standards and best practice guidelines including:
Archival material is acquired in accordance with the Archives Centre collecting policy. The Archives Centre is not currently equipped to preserve collections that are largely machine-readable (audio-visual and digital). It therefore does not actively pursue those types of collections at present, and would seek specialist advice on any such material within its collections.
The Archives Centre will seek to ensure appropriate and secure accommodation for all its holdings, whether they are stored, processed or used.
Appropriate accommodation includes environmentally controlled and monitored space, enclosures that conform to archival standards, security, pest management and disaster preparedness. In this, the Archives Centre adheres as far as possible to BS 5454:2000.
The Archives Centre will update and maintain a Disaster Contingency Plan to protect its holdings by responding to emergencies.
In a disaster or emergency, the first priority will be the safety of people followed by immediate action to rescue or prevent further damage to the records. Emergency response and recovery actions will take precedence over all other Archives Centre activities.
All copies that are kept by the Archives Centre have preservation value because they:
For human-readable records, the first priority is to ensure preservation of the archival records themselves in preference to making preservation copies.
Preservation copying will employ techniques and materials tested for longevity and cost-effectiveness. For traditional, human-readable records, this will be microfilm or photographic and/or digital to the preservation standard set out below:
Where there is a demand for access, machine-readable (audio-visual) records will be copied to create a digital surrogate. In addition to a digital access copy, a preservation copy will be kept on a backed-up server. Copies can only be made after seeking permission from the copyright holder.
The concept of originals and copies does not apply in the same manner in a digital environment; electronic records are not limited to a single physical instance and may be copied in a manner which is indistinguishable and fundamentally identical to the original. Furthermore, copying does not present any risk of damage or deterioration to the original (unless the storage medium itself is fragile). Copying of electronic records may be carried out to meet requirements for media refreshment, security, disaster recovery and access.
Customer copying must not endanger the archival record. For that reason, certain restrictions are in place.
Conservation treatments undertaken in the Archives Centre will be in accordance with nationally recognised and agreed ethical and technical standards including:
Priorities for conservation are determined using the following criteria:
All conservation treatment will be undertaken with the intention of preserving the maximum degree of evidential value and with the minimum impact on the authenticity of the record.
All conservation examinations and treatments will be recorded and the records kept for the long-term.
Conservation staff will keep abreast of new developments in preservation and conservation practice through continuing professional development (training courses etc.)
Exhibition and loan of original documents must be approved by the Director and the Conservator of the Archives Centre.
Exhibition and Loan will only be approved if the host body can show that the standards of care in the temporary location are similar to those of the Archives Centre and meet the requirements of BS 5454:2000. Usually, a site visit is undertaken.
The Archives Centre will encourage the use of facsimiles for both in-house and external displays.
Public access to original documents will be in the controlled conditions of an invigilated reading room.
Readers must sign to a set of rules and read Handling Guidelines before being issued with documents.
Badly damaged or vulnerable material may be restricted. Reader demand for such material will increase its priority for conservation treatment.
Where a surrogate is available, this must be used by readers and staff instead of the original.
Updated October 2011