As Collections Care Conservator at Gloucestershire Archives, I recently attended a training course on the Conservation of Photographs. It was taught by Susie Clark, one of the UK’s leading experts in this field, who stressed that certain types of photographs and photographic negatives benefit from being stored at freezing temperatures, as this slows down the rate of deterioration.
So we decided it would be good to provide this enhanced level of care for some of the Archives’ valuable yet vulnerable photographic collections. And, knowing walk-in freezer rooms are expensive to create and maintain, we decided to opt for a more cost-effective and practical solution – two free-standing commercial freezers, one small and one large, sourced from a Gloucester firm. These arrived on Thursday 23 February.
Our new freezers feature strong adjustable metal shelves, an auto defrost function, a digital temperature display so we can monitor the temperature inside each freezer, big castor feet so they can be moved around, and lockable doors.
As well as being an effective means of preservation, freezing is also a proven and chemical-free way of killing off insect pests like wool moths and “bookworms” (the larvae of various species of wood boring beetles). There’s always the possibility of us needing to do this as some of the unique material that comes our way can be infested with pests, as you can see from the image below. Thankfully, we now we have a better way of dealing with them!