The overall goal for the project was to improve storage conditions for our archival material so that it is preserved for as long as possible. We were awarded accreditation by the National Archives in November 2016, so improving our storage facilities will also help us to maintain our accreditation status.
The title for this project was inspired by our chosen off-site storage solution at a repurposed airfield at Upper Heyford. This site offers storage that meets the British standard for temperature, humidity and other factors that might affect the long-term preservation of records. As those of you who have visited the Archive know, we benefit from having our premises in a beautiful Grade II*-listed building (below), which provides an attractive backdrop for visiting researchers and exhibitions and events. However, we also face limitations in terms of providing an ideal environment for delicate images and documents that will decay over time.
During the project, 12 volunteers have catalogued 11258 items and added them to the online catalogue so that they are freely available to the public. The cataloguing volunteers have been managed by our Archivist Nathanael, who has determined which material they should catalogue and has trained them to ensure that they complete the process to the right standard. Once catalogued, items can then be packaged in suitable archival packaging and then stored off site.
In the past year, we have transferred 520 boxes of catalogued material to Upper Heyford, equalling 5.34 m3. Nathanael has assessed all the collections and determined the priority for collections to be sent off-site to our storage solution at Upper Heyford. The picture above shows Nathanael with one of our first transfers to Upper Heyford.
By moving material off site, we have also created space for incoming material to be stored on site while we process the collection. This space is essential since we regularly receive new donations of images and documents. During the project alone, we have received 34 new collections.
“Archives and Air Hangars” has been an important stepping stone. We will now need to maintain our accreditation obligations and the commitment we have made to continuously improve storage, so that our unique Archive resource is preserved for generations to come.