How to select the right heritage storage partner
Archive Storage Tips
As specialists in heritage relocation, one of our focus areas is the provision of storage facilities for the use of archives and libraries as well as museums and trusts.
Our Heritage Store site at Upper Heyford is a heritage site in and of itself due to its rich history as a military base; the site was first used from 1915, through both World Wars up until the Cold War when it was used by the US Airforce to house and deploy F1-11 fighter bombers. Three of the 56 hangars are now exclusively dedicated to the heritage sector and designed to meet all criteria required by the industry.
Inadequate environmental conditions cause the most damage to archives so it is important that present and future needs of a heritage collection are considered when creating a museum grade environment for long term storage.
Archives, old libraries and museum items need to be stored under very specific conditions with steady temperatures and relative humidity to ensure that materials are protected and preserved for the future. The deterioration of archives doubles with temperature increases of as little as 10°C so correct management is crucial.
If the environment is too damp it can encourage insect infestation as well as the development of mould. If on the other hand, conditions are too dry then materials can become brittle and fragile. It is important to regulate relative humidity as the sudden loss or introduction of moisture can lead to structural damage to the archives and result in quick decline.
Pest infestation is another major factor in archive preservation. Many pests such as booklice for example, can thrive in high heat and high humidity conditions.
Our heritage shelters at Upper Heyford are inspected and evaluated by the National Conservation Society to ensure that they fulfil all the criteria for the storage of heritage collections and archives and abide by all relevant standards such as PD5454:2012 and subsequent compliance documents. The environment for archives, books and other relevant organic material objects needs to meet the humidity and temperature specifications in BS 4971:2017 (which now supercedes PD5454:2012) all year round. The NCS has specified the appropriate conditions in our different shelters depending on their contents, and they are regularly monitored by them to ensure that everything is as it should.
The concrete floor inside each hangar, combined with the granite reinforced walls, provides thermal stability no matter the season. Additional measures agreed with the NCS such as hygroscopic paint on the internal steel lining as well as acrylic sealing on the floor slab and vault doors ensure further environmental control.
Back-up cooling, heating and humidity control equipment is installed in those stores for which the environmental specifications require additional control. The temperatures in those remain constantly lower than 18°C and relative humidity remains at 35% to 60%.
Library and archival materials naturally absorb and release moisture and are sensitive to both day time and seasonal changes in temperature and relative humidity which they exhibit by expanding and contracting. Visible damage can display as buckling paper, flaky ink, warped covers, and cracked photographs. Wax seals can melt or become brittle and film can disintegrate.
To ensure the ongoing quality of our service we have a series of additional measures in place which set us apart from our competitors.
Our specially built wooden cases are heat treated before being used to pack museum assets to ensure that any pests that might have burrowed in the wood are exterminated. This ensures that only perfectly sterile cases are used to house rare items and also that no pests are introduced into the stores.
If a customer has particular storage requirements such as hourly RH monitoring or certain temperature specifications we can isolate areas inside the warehouse just for them in order to ensure their exact needs are met.
Before a heritage collection enters our stores we visit and inspect it in advance to certify that it is free of pests or mould. Collections that are found to not meet our strict criteria are advised on how to treat their problem before we reconsider whether they can be taken into our heritage storage site.
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