Collection Care runs a programme of preventive conservation measures to minimise risks to the collection.

Advice and guidance

Our staff work with other departments within The National Archives which handle original documents, to ensure that document well-being is maintained. We also advise other government departments and places of deposit.

Mitigating risks

The National Archives is committed to providing access to the archival collection. Measures are in place to manage risks when the records are in use.

Information is provided to readers on how to handle documents as part of their application for or on renewal of their reader's ticket.  They are not required to wear gloves unless they are handling easily-damaged material.

Wearing gloves to handle documents (PDF, 0.03Mb)

Reading aids are available in the Reading Rooms, which are invigilated constantly by staff and CCTV.

Collection Care provides document-handling training for all new staff who will need to handle documents in the course of their work.

Records salvage

In the event of a major incident, the safety of staff and visitors is of paramount importance. The Collection Care Department, working with the Document Services Department, is responsible for the prompt and safe recovery of original documents once the area is safe to enter.

Our Business Continuity Plan sets out procedures to ensure a swift response and efficient restoration of essential operations so as to keep disruption to a minimum.

Records salvage equipment is stocked in each repository at Kew and at the off-site storage facility.

A database of staff volunteers is maintained to enable extra help to be called in if an incident occurs outside opening hours.

Digitisation of original records

The National Archives has extensive experience of digitising archival records from originals, mainly through projects carried out with private-sector partners. No other institution has digitised such large collections of diverse historic material on a commercial basis.

Collection Care staff play an essential role in the success of these projects. Document surveys are used to inform all aspects of the scanning operation, from planning stages through to imaging and storage. We advise on every practical aspect: selecting records for digitisation, choosing equipment, dealing with damaged documents and all other issues, including resourcing.

We also advise on the set-up of the work space for imaging and provide document handling training to scanning staff. Preparation of documents for scanning is undertaken by project conservators using the survey data to plan the work required.

Further information

AE Bülow and J Ahmon, Preparing Collections for Digitization (Facet Publishing, London 2011)

J Ahmon, Project Motorway: Implementation of large-scale scanning projects. In Second Life for Collections: Papers given at the National Preservation Office Conference held 29 October 2007 at the British Library, National Preservation Office, pp 28-36 (2009)

See also: J Ahmon, Digitisation of 1911 census schedules. In Icon News, Issue 14, January 2008, pp 25-28 (2008)

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