Sub-zero storage solution for snaps

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!

pest damaged book board 1

This photo shows the cover of a book that was recently given to Gloucestershire Archives. Because it had been stored previously in a damp environment, it was severely damaged by mould and by the larvae of one species of wood-boring insect, possibly the common furniture beetle.

 

 

 

Keeping busy behind the scenes

Here at Gloucestershire Archives we’re involved in lots of activities to gather, keep and share the documented heritage of Gloucestershire and South Gloucestershire.  We’re also leading joint activities to make sure this keeps on happening, like the £2.6M For the Record project we’re currently developing.

While some of our work is plain to see there’s a lot that goes on in the background, especially when it comes to dealing with collections.  So we thought it’d be good to share more about what we’ve been up to.  With this in mind a few folk from our Collections team spoke with Pete Wilson of Radio Gloucestershire.  The interviews were broadcast throughout his shows on 18th and 25th January and you can listen to them via the links below.  They’ll be available until 15th and 22nd February respectively.  Amongst other things, the team mention the key role of volunteers and partner organisations.  They highlight this in the round-up at the end of the second programme.

I hope you find their enthusiasm inspiring.   I certainly did!

http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p02ghtjm

http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p02gws2m

Preservation and Interpretation – A trainees perspective

Since August 2013 I have been working at Gloucestershire Archives as a trainee archivist; and in September I moved to Liverpool to study for my Masters in Archives and Records Management, the professional qualification which will allow me to work as an archivist in the future. Continue reading

Providing access to fragile or damaged items in our collections

At Gloucestershire Archives, we do the best we can to ensure that the collections in our care are preserved securely and permanently. But some parts of our collections have suffered damage in the past because they have been well used or because they have been kept in poor conditions before reaching us. For example, documents might be damaged by mould, heavily soiled by smoke and coal dust, badly torn, eaten by mice or broken into pieces! Continue reading