6 safety factors to consider when archiving documents and special collections
Whether you’re looking for new premises or moving your archive, there’s a lot to keep in mind regarding safety. Historically, fire and moisture have caused the most damage to archives. The building where you wish to place your archive should for example protect the collections against water, moisture, fire, pollution, damage and unauthorized access.
Bruynzeel Storage Systems has over 60 years of experience in the development of space saving archive and storage systems. With our substantial experience within the archive industry, we are happy to share a number of factors to consider when archiving your documents or collections.
1. Environment (temperature & ventilation) – If you are storing brittle or sensitive collections, it is important for the archive to be stored in a cool and quite dry room with stable temperatures. The daily variation in temperature should not exceed ± 2 ° C. High temperatures, humidity and changes in temperature speed up chemical changes and the degradation of your stored material. With humidity above 65%, mold can easily spread through your collections. To control the temperature and humidity, a climate system is often installed. To protect against dust and mold, ventilation ducts and filters are needed in the room.
When choosing an electric mobile storage system, they allow a “ventilation mode”, at pre-set times the system will “open” to allow optimal ventilation on all aisles.
2. Fire prevention – The storage area should be as fire resistant as possible, think of using fire resistant doors and windows. There are even options to make walls, floors and ceilings fire-resistant.
When using electric mobile systems, special features can be added to the system. For example, if the fire alarm goes off the system gets a signal to go into a certain position e.g. close to protect the collection from smoke.
3. Water – Water can cause major damage to archives. Pipe work should not run through storage areas. This includes all plumbing and central heating water pipes. In addition, do not place a storage area directly below water tanks, boilers or pipe work. Shelving should be secured to the floor and ceiling, never fixed directly to exterior walls, to prevent damp. To allow airflow and stop damp from accumulating on your collection the storage system should be placed 20 cm from the walls, and the lowest shelf should be placed 15 cm from floor level.
4. Light pollution – The archive should have minimum exposure to sunlight and artificial light. LED Lighting is one of the most energy efficient light sources. One of the advantages of LED lighting is that they do not release any UV or infrared radiation and can thereby extend the life of the collections compared to halogen light sources of the same colour, temperature and illuminance.
5. Emissions – If you have historic fragile collections you should place them in acid free boxes. Material such as wood give off acetic acid, which cause archives to deteriorate faster. Galvanized items are allowed, but are not recommended. Zinc white gives black spots and has an uneven surface, and should never be used when storing books, as it will damage book covers. The best option are open metal shelves. Open shelves also allow circulation of air and allow easy inspection and cleaning.
6. Unauthorized access – To avoid unauthorized access or theft it is possible to ad security features to your storage systems. Mobile shelving can provide you with features such as movement detection and a built in lock. Electrical systems can be equiped with PIN code and RFID tags. Professional electronic systems can be connected to document management systems and can use RFID to facilitate easy retrieval of archived material, via automatic opening and closing features. Entire systems can be accessible for only a few people with RFID or PIN numbers or you can shield just one aisle.
In addition to these 6 important factors, there is a lot more to take into consideration when creating a safe and secure archive room, such as electrical installations, vibration free movements, etcetera. Feel free to contact us for help in every step of the way to find the ideal storage solutions for your location. Let our experts help you!