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Although we have all been working from home, the collections in our storage areas have to be physically checked now and then and maintained in a safe state. One of the areas that needs visually monitoring every few days (as it is not linked into the Building Management System) is the Cold Storage room which contains three laboratory freezers which house our most vulnerable moving image films and film-based photographs. Please see previous blog posts here and here.
Routinely, every three months, the freezer doors are opened and the humidity indicators are checked – these are small pieces of cobalt chloride paper within the plastic packages which remain blue when the humidity is in the safe range. If any begin to turn lilac that means that the humidity buffer enclosed in the package (dried board or silica gel) is starting to get used up and therefore needs to be reconditioned.
I carried out this check and, as normal, found a few that were ready for reconditioning.
This image shows the materials used in the process – boards, silica gel, plastic bags, humidity indicators and vacuum cleaner.
The process of reconditioning involves
It was a pleasure to be in the Archives Centre carrying out this essential task and hopefully, in three months time, when the next check comes around, things will be more normal…