Preserving Archives, Second Edition

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  • Description
  • Table of Contents
  • About the authors
  • Reviews

Access to archival material, the documentary heritage of people all over the world that gives them their identity and ensures their rights, is dependent on the survival of fragile materials: paper, parchment, photographic materials, audiovisual materials and, most recently, magnetic, optical and increasingly digital formats. Archivists in all types of organizations face questions on how to plan a preservation strategy in less than perfect circumstances, or deal with a sudden emergency. The new second edition of Preserving Archives considers the causes of threats to the basic material, outlines the preservation options available, and offers flexible solutions applicable in a variety of situations. Forde and Rhys-Lewis thoroughly update the text with additional material on digital preservation and environmentally-conscious practices, as well as a new chapter on the management and training of volunteers, reflecting a key concern for many archival institutions. Offering a wide range of case studies and examples from international specialists, other topics include

  • Understanding archival materials and their characteristics
  • Managing digital preservation
  • Archive buildings and their characteristics
  • Safeguarding the building and its contents
  • Managing archival storage
  • Managing risks and avoiding disaster
  • Creating and using surrogates
  • Exhibiting archives
  • Handling the records
  • Managing a pest control program
  • Training and the use of volunteers
  • Putting preservation into practice

Introduction to the series - Geoffrey Yeo

1. Introducing archive preservation

  • Introduction
  • How has the relationship between conservation and preservation developed?
  • Definitions
  • Summary
  • Notes

2. Understanding archival materials and their characteristics

  • Introduction
  • Paper
  • Parchment
  • Inks: from carbon ink to laser printing
  • Photographic materials
  • Analogue audiovisual materials: wax cylinders, shellac and vinyl discs and film
  • Optical materials: CDs and DVDs
  • Magnetic materials: tape, hard disks and floppy disks
  • Minidiscs
  • Portable digital storage
  • Summary
  • Notes and references

3. Managing digital preservation

  • Introduction
  • Why is digital preservation management important?
  • Why is digital preservation difficult?
  • Costs of digital preservation
  • What should be preserved?
  • Who should be involved?
  • What is the starting point?
  • What happens next?
  • Summary
  • Notes and references

4. Archive buildings and their characteristics

  • Introduction
  • How has the concept of archive buildings developed?
  • How did archive buildings develop in the UK?
  • What other ideas have developed for archive buildings?
  • What should be considered before building or adapting an existing building to house an archive?
  • What needs to be explained?
  • Location
  • How should the architect be briefed?
  • What are the problems with adapted buildings or historic buildings?
  • Summary
  • Notes and references

5. Safeguarding the building and its contents

  • Introduction
  • Security
  • Fire prevention, detection and suppression
  • Water detection
  • Environmental issues
  • Summary
  • Notes and references

6. Managing archival storage

  • Introduction
  • Why do environmental conditions matter?
  • What needs to be controlled?
  • Mould: why is it such a threat?
  • Measuring and monitoring temperature and humidity
  • Measuring and monitoring pollution levels
  • Special arrangements
  • How can comparative costs be assessed?
  • Shelving, racking and plan chest specifications
  • What kind of equipment is needed?
  • Possible future developments
  • Summary
  • Notes and references

7. Managing risks and avoiding disaster

  • Introduction
  • Why undertake an ‘operation-hope-not'?
  • Definitions
  • Who is responsible for disaster planning?
  • What should be saved first?
  • Development of a disaster control plan: where to start?
  • Prevention
  • Preparation
  • Reaction
  • Recovery
  • Evaluation
  • Summary
  • Notes and references

8. Creating and using surrogates

  • Introduction
  • Copying archive material
  • What copying techniques are available?
  • What problems arise?
  • Developing a preservation copying policy: why do it?
  • How can the copies themselves be preserved?
  • Selecting correct copying methods
  • Preparation of material
  • Copying of material in-house
  • Use of outside agencies
  • Summary
  • Notes and references

9. Moving the records

  • Introduction
  • What are the risks?
  • Planning the project
  • Briefing a suitable removal firm
  • Minimum removal equipment specifications
  • Preparing for the move
  • The move itself
  • And afterwards...
  • Summary
  • Notes and references

10. Exhibiting archives

  • Introduction
  • How can the overall risk be minimized?
  • Managing the care of documents in exhibitions
  • Planning and preparing for an exhibition
  • During the exhibition
  • And afterwards...
  • Summary
  • Notes and references

11. Handling the records

  • Introduction
  • The problem
  • Improving the quality of care: how can it be achieved?
  • Where and how can good practice be demonstrated to readers?
  • How can staff be best trained?
  • Summary
  • Notes

12. Managing a pest control programme

  • Introduction
  • What are the common pests?
  • What damage do pests do to archival materials?
  • Where are they likely to be active?
  • What are the signs of an infestation?
  • How can they be prevented from getting into the collections?
  • Why are previous eradication measures no longer used?
  • Why is integrated pest management (IPM) now adopted as a strategy?
  • How can IPM be introduced?
  • Setting traps
  • Dealing with an infestation
  • Ongoing management
  • Summary
  • Notes and references

13. Training and the use of volunteers

  • Introduction
  • What options for preservation training are available?
  • What areas of preservation should be covered?
  • The use of volunteers
  • What are the key challenges of using volunteers?
  • Using volunteers for preservation activities
  • The importance of documentation
  • Volunteers and the interface with conservation
  • Summary
  • Notes and references

14. Putting preservation into practice

  • Introduction
  • Choices and options
  • Who is responsible?
  • What is a preservation policy?
  • What about strategies?
  • Costs, funding and options
  • How is a programme planned and put into action?
  • And the results?
  • Notes and references


  1. The National Archives Conditions for Loans policy
  2. A conservation workshop
  3. Compiling a Preservation Policy; an advisory template
  4. UCL Library Services: Volunteer Agreement
  5. Benchmarking entries: MLA

British and international standards relating to archive preservation

Helen Forde

Helen Forde is a professional archivist who has worked in local authority, private and national archives. Until 2001 she was Head of Preservation Services at the UK national Archives, where she had previously been in charge of both the library and the Museum. She has taught preservation management and worked as an independent consultant on archives.

Jonathan Rhys-Lewis

Jonathan Rhys-Lewis is preservation and collections management consultant with over 25 years' experience within local government and as an independent consultant. He trains, lectures and publishes on preservation and preservation management.

"[This] practical reference with its rich historical details is a gift to all cultural heritage organizations."
— Archival Issues