Collections Care and Conservation Policy


1. Principles

2. Definitions

3. Standards and ethics

4. Roles and responsibilities

5. Security and buildings

6. Outstore

7. Document movement, handling and use

8. New donations or deposits

9. Packaging

10. Conservation treatments

11. Risk management

12. Collections held elsewhere

13. Statutory framework

The purpose of this policy is to explain how the service will manage the main risks and threats to the survival and accessibility of its collections. This policy directs how the service ensures that collections in its care are treated in a safe and consistent way and the work we do to promote the preservation of material still in private hands.

It covers preservation, conservation and security arrangements for the archives and local studies collections in its care at the Cheshire Record Office and its outstore (Deepstore). It excludes local studies and special collections held at local libraries except where they are referred to specifically. The care of digital collections is set out in a separate Digital Preservation Policy.

1 Principles

1.1 The service will follow best practice and the most recent and authoritative guidance available (see Section 3).

1.2 The service will seek to ensure sufficient resources of skills, facilities, staffing and equipment are in place to ensure that this policy is implemented.

1.3 The service will ensure that all staff and volunteers within the service have an understanding of the minimum requirements of collections care and are able to identify potential risks and threats in order to report or act on them.

1.4 The service recognises the part played in collections care of ensuring that the service’s Collection and Cataloguing policies are applied.

2 Definitions

2.1 Collections care or preservation is the passive protection of archives or library materials in which no physical or chemical treatment is used. This can be done through a variety of measures aimed both at minimising the risk of loss of records and slowing down, as much as possible, the natural processes of physical deterioration inherent in most archives and books.

2.2 Conservation involves the protection of archives or library materials by minimal physical and chemical treatments designed to resist further deterioration and to make material available for use.

3 Standards and ethics

3.1 The service will conform to relevant standards, best practice and ethics for collections care and conservation including:

  • BS EN 16893: 2018 Conservation of Cultural Heritage – specifications for location, construction and modification of buildings or rooms intended for the storage or use of heritage collections.
  • BS 4971: 2017, Conservation and Care of archive and library collections.
  • BS EN 15999-1:2014 Conservation of cultural heritage. Guidelines for design of showcases for exhibition and preservation of objects. General requirements.
  • Icon Ethical Guidance (2020).
  • Archives and Records Association – Code of Ethics (February 2020).

4 Roles and responsibilities

4.1 Overall responsibility for collections care and conservation is the responsibility of the Archives and Heritage Manager.

4.2 Operational responsibility for collections care and conservation is the responsibility of the Senior Archives Collections Officer, Local Studies Adviser and Conservators.

4.3 All staff have a responsibility for day-to-day collections care of collections.

5 Security and buildings

5.1 The service’s buildings will be inspected and maintained regularly and any issues reported and dealt with efficiently.

5.2 Access to buildings, and to storage areas in particular, will be controlled and appropriate security measures will be in place.

5.3 The service will ensure that procedures relating to customer access to the public searchroom are designed with security and collections care in mind.

5.4 Buildings will be fitted with fire detection and storage areas with suppression systems and will be subject to routine inspection and review with Cheshire Fire and Rescue Service.

5.5 The environment in storage areas will be routinely monitored, recorded and corrected as necessary.

5.6 Storage areas will be kept tidy and cleaned regularly by trained staff and contractors.

5.7 Emergency planning and business continuity plans and procedures will be reviewed, tested and kept updated.

6 Outstore

6.1 The outstore will conform to BS EN 16893: 2018.

6.2 The environment at the out-store will confirm to BS 4971: 2017 (for paper/traditional mixed collections). The environment in storage areas will be routinely monitored and recorded by the supplier. Environmental data will be provided to the service.

6.3 All items in the out-store will be boxed/packaged and barcoded.

6.4 All out-store staff will be security vetted (IG, BPSS, NPPV Level 3, DBS) and receive specialist document handling training.

6.5 The out-store will be ICO registered (Data Protection Act) and GDPR compliant.

7 Document movement, handling and use

7.1 Procedures and systems will be in place to record and manage the location of documents with an effective procedure for the issue and return of items to customers. This information will be kept for current year plus three years.

7.2 The outstore’s inventory system will provide a full audit trail and chain of custody for movement of items, including retrieval and return.

7.3 The service will ensure that appropriate training and equipment is provided to ensure the safe transport and movement of archives.

7.4 Document handling guidelines and suitable aids such as weights and book supports will be provided for staff and customers.

7.5 Reprographics and digitisation will be used to support the long-term preservation of original material. Appropriate equipment and training will be provided to ensure the safe copying of archives. Digitisation of archives carried out by a contractor off site will be permitted following assessment and on condition that they are stored according to standards at section 3.

7.6 Surrogates (eg. Microfilms, digitised images) will be stored at a separate site to the originals.

8 New donations or deposits

8.1 Any new donations or deposits of collections that show signs of damage will be inspected by a Conservator. If this is physical, microbiological, or from infestation they must be quarantined. Mould or insect infestation will be eliminated, they will be stabilised and cleaned before being introduced into the storage areas.

9 Packaging

9.1 The service will aim to keep collections in archival boxes as far as is practical.

9.2 The service will use archival quality secondary packaging as appropriate.

9.3 Priorities for packaging are identified by staff based on condition, rarity and use.

9.4 Packaging materials will be readily available at work stations and in storage areas

9.5 All staff and volunteers will receive annual training in handling, selection and use of appropriate packaging materials.

10 Conservation treatments

10.1 Items that are found to have pre-existing damage sufficiently serious to prevent or limit access or suffering from deterioration will be prioritised for treatment depending on their current or likely level of use, amount and type of damage and historical significance. Assessments will be carried out using information from customer services staff and archivists.

10.2 A qualified conservator will carry out the minimum necessary treatment to archives to stabilise them, prolong their life, and render them fit to be used, without compromising their integrity, in accordance with current standards and best practice.

10.3 The service will ensure that conservation department staff are up-to-date with new methods and materials

10.4 All treatment carried out on documents will be recorded in the service’s collections management system

11 Risk management

11.1 A collections care, conservation and security risk register will be created by the Conservators and kept up to date.

12 Collections held elsewhere

12.1 The service will have procedures in place to allow the safe and secure temporary return of documents to depositors.

12.2 Requests for loans for exhibitions from external organisations will be co-ordinated by the Senior Archives Collections Officer and Conservators. The service requires at least 4 months’ notice for all applications loans for exhibitions.

12.3 The service will take all reasonable steps, including support for community archive projects, to facilitate the maintenance and use of archives and local studies materials held elsewhere provided that there are reasonable measures in place to secure their physical safety and sustainability.

12.4 The service will provide advice and guidance on collections care to the public, as well as access to the supply of conservation services and archival storage materials.

12.5 The service will provide advice and guidance for collections care and conservation to libraries that hold local studies and special collections, as well as access to the supply of conservation services and archival storage materials.

13. Statutory framework

Public Records Acts 1958, 1967

Manorial Documents Rules 1959 and 1967

Tithe Apportionment Rules 1960 and 1963

Local Government (Records) Act 1962

Local Government Act 1972

Parochial Registers and Records Measure 1978, amended 1992

Local Government (Access to Information Act) 1985

General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and the Data Protection Act 2018

Freedom of Information Act 2000

Re-use of Public Sector Information Regulations 2015