We love our records access! It’s great to walk into a building, request some documents and then have them at our finger tips.
Sometimes, due to the size of a collection, some material is actually stored “off-site.” This sometimes means we have to wait a little longer to get our hands on the records or we have to request them in advance so that they can be brought from an off-site location.
What we don’t see is the behind-the-scenes efforts that go into providing us this access. These records have to be stored somewhere. Records collections pretty much always grow once they are at an archive or other official repository. This often necessitates increasing the storage area. Such increases may necessitate moving materials to a larger facility. Or, as was the case recently in NC, it may be something as simple as the term of a lease ending and a decision by either party to not renew.
You can read the process used in How Did We Move a Warehouse Full of Records?
It’s a short yet great read on all that goes into records storage, access and preservation.
The British Library makes available Moving Collections (from the Preservation Advisory Centre) [PDF format].
I know that Duke University (Rubenstein Library which is just re-opening) and Barnard College both currently had to shut down their collections for the summer as they moved their materials to off-site storage as reconstruction projects were finishing and being undertaken, respectfully.
We do have a tendency to take for granted our access to records and all that goes into their storage and preservation.
I don’t know about you and I found moving from one house to another (and that was a couple of decades ago) a headache. I don’t envy any archivists who have the responsibility of managing the move of a large one-of-a-kind collection!
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