Preservation Policy

1. Introduction
2. Scope of policy
3. Infrastructure and resources
4. Intellectual control
5. Environmental
6. Security
7. Handling and Use
8. Remedial actions
9. Digital records
10.Archives and local studies materials held elsewhere

1. Introduction

1.1. The core purpose of the service is to promote the preservation and use of, and interest in the archives and local studies of Cheshire, as a safeguard of democratic accountability, a resource for lifelong learning for individuals and a means of reinforcing community identity.


1.2. Central to achieving this purpose is ensuring the long-term preservation, and hence accessibility, of those records and archives selected for permanent preservation in accordance with our Collection Policy and of those books, journals and papers in the Local Studies collection which are rare and irreplaceable. Preservation lies at the core of all the service’s activities. This policy relates to all materials irrespective of medium or format.


1.3. The service is also concerned to promote the preservation of those archives and records still in private hands which can contribute to a better understanding of the development of the community of Cheshire.

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2. Scope of policy

2.1. The policy is intended to set out the principles which guide our preservation activities. These are designed to mitigate the main risks and threats to the long-term survival and accessibility of archives and local studies materials. These can be grouped into the following themes:

  • Infrastructure and resources
  • Intellectual control and management
  • Environmental
  • Security, exposing materials to damage or loss through theft or vandalism
  • Handling and use
  • Deterioration over time owing to inherent instability of materials, or pre-existing damage
  • Electronic and digital records: records and information created and used digitally pose particular problems for long-term preservation. See our digital preservation pages for more information.
  • Records held elsewhere


2.2. Each of these themes are considered in more detail in the following paragraphs


2.3. Our policy is to follow best practice in the sector and the most recent and authoritative guidance which is available. The main source of guidance for our preservation policy is the British Standard BS 5454:2000 Recommendations for the storage and exhibition of archival documents.

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3. Infrastructure and resources

3.1. Effective preservation requires the application of sufficient resources of skills, manpower, facilities and equipment over the long term. The service currently meets those requirements of the National Archives’ Standard for Record Repositories, which relate to the constitution, finance and staffing.


3.2. Staff: it is essential for the long term preservation of archives that the service maintains a balance of skills on it staff including those of the archivist, the conservator and the librarian


3.3. Governance: the service will seek to ensure that arrangements and agreements for the governance and resourcing of the service are sufficiently robust to make the service sustainable in the long term.

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4. Intellectual control

4.1. A key part of preservation is the protection of the integrity, authenticity and trustworthiness of the record. This requires intellectual control of the records in its care.


4.2. The service will collect only archives, records and secondary materials which fall within its Collection Policy. More specifically, it will not seek to acquire items for which it does not have the necessary skills, facilities or equipment to ensure their long term preservation.


4.3. All decisions and actions which affect the integrity of the archives (appraisal, sampling, provision of surrogate copies etc) will be recorded.


4.4. The service will apply current standards of best practice for the arrangement and description of archives and records as set out in the Framework of Standards published by The National Archives.


4.5. Catalogues and lists will be created and made available in accordance with the Cataloguing policy. They will be online as far as possible either on the service’s own website or through co-operative projects to enable users to identify as closely as possible the materials which they wish to use.


4.6. The service will ensure that newly-received material is accessioned and described to collection level within 10 working days of receipt.


4.7. The service will maintain a procedure for allowing limited access to material before it is fully catalogued.

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5. Environmental

5.1. Building maintenance: all repository areas in which archives and local studies are stored will be regularly checked for obvious defects, ingress of water etc, and the appropriate services or, in the case of premises not owned by Cheshire West and Chester Council, external authorities will be contacted to arrange for necessary remedial action.


5.2. All storage areas will be monitored to measure humidity and temperature to ensure that they are in line with BS 5454. Serious or long-term divergences from standards will be investigated and remedial action taken.


5.3. Shelving, map cabinets etc will meet the requirements of BS 5454.


5.4. Storage materials (boxes, folders, tape etc) will be of archival standard.


5.5. Archives and records will be stored in boxes as far as is practical .


5.6. An up-to-date and accurate record of document locations, and an effective procedure for the issue and return of items will be maintained to ensure that archives are kept in their proper locations.


5.7. Strongrooms and storage areas will be regularly cleaned and shelves dusted, and checked regularly for pests.


5.8. The service will maintain an up-to-date Disaster Recovery Plan setting out measures to be taken in the event of a disaster to mitigate its effects.

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6. Security

6.1. The service will ensure that all buildings in which archives and local studies materials are held have adequate systems for the detection of fire and for notifying the Fire and Rescue service; where possible repository areas will be fitted with environmentally-friendly fire suppression systems.


6.2. The service will ensure that all buildings in which archives and local studies materials are held have adequate systems for the prevention of unauthorised access, particularly to repository areas; where possible this will include intruder alarm systems.


6.3. The service will participate in national or regional schemes for the issue of readers’ tickets provided that they do not impose unreasonable barriers to access.

7. Handling and Use

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7.1. The service will ensure that staff have equipment to assist in the issue and return of archives (trolleys, ladders etc) which is fit for purpose and available in sufficient numbers.


7.2. All staff and volunteers will be trained in the correct handling and packaging of materials.


7.3. Where level of demand, physical condition or other factor demands it, materials will be made available only in surrogate media (digital image, microfilm etc).


7.4. The more popular series of records will be made available in digital form online in order to reduce handling of originals and to improve access.


7.5. The service will provide appropriate aids (book supports, weights, cotton gloves etc) for users of archives to minimise the risk of damage.


7.6. Copying and exhibition of archives present particular problems. Our policies covering them are set out in the Reprographics Policy and Exhibition Policy.

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8. Remedial actions

8.1. Documents, books etc which are found to have pre-existing damage sufficiently serious to prevent or limit access and use, or suffering from inherent deterioration will be treated in accordance with the service’s Conservation Policy.

9. Digital records

9.1. The service has developed a Digital Preservation policy, setting out how the service will seek to fulfil its core purpose in relation to electronic information and records.


9.2. The service will work closely with colleagues in IT/Information Management in its parent authorities to ensure the identification and preservation of electronic information of long-term significance.


9.3. The service will monitor developments in technology and in best-practice in relation to the management of digital records.


9.4. In relation to deposited records the service will try to proactively engage with depositors and owners to collaborate on identification of records to be preserved and on ensuring availability in suitable formats.

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10. Archives and local studies materials held elsewhere

10.1. The service will co-operate with other archive repositories to promote the preservation of archive collections in the most appropriate repository in the circumstances.


10.2. 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.


10.3. The service will provide advice and guidance on matters of preservation and access, as well as access to the supply of appropriate archival storage materials.


May 2009