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  • Writer's pictureRebecca Somerset

Redevelopment of the Archives

The last few weeks has seen some physical changes to the Archives. One of the goals identified in the Development Plan for the Archives 2014-2019 was the restructuring of the archives to increase storage capacity and better utilise the space to meet the archives’ aims of collecting, preserving and making available records concerning the Jesuits in Britain. The Archives were almost at full capacity and improved storage, for example by having shelves that fit the boxes correctly, was desirable in order to ensure that the unique archives are protected and preserved and are not damaged due to poor storage conditions. Mobile shelving, also known as rolling stacks, are a cost-effective method of increasing storage capacity and can increase capacity by 70% in comparison to standard shelving, and are therefore a popular choice in archives. The shelves are designed to fit the archive boxes we have chosen to use and are PD5454 (standard for the storage and exhibition of archival materials) compliant. It was therefore decided to develop one of the library areas into an enclosed repository with rolling stacks.

In addition to this work a new office space was created as both an office space and a space for working on the collections. The new office environment has been designed to be secure, light and comfortable and provide sufficient space for all the archive team. The new office layout also ensures clear supervision of visitors at all times, which was not possible in the past. The old office space will now form a separate area to work on the sorting, cleaning and repackaging of archives as well as a place to store unprocessed material. By allocating a separate space for such procedural work it will allow staff to work on the collections without needing to be concerned about leaving items out or restricting access in particular when working on sensitive or closed collections, as well as potentially enabling onsite conservation work to be carried out.

In the first instance this redevelopment work meant the emptying of shelves of books in the areas affected by the work and storing these in every available space that could be found. In September, a team of builders pulled down the shelves, reused the wood in creating the enclosed space for the repository and redecorated the areas. Last week the rolling stacks were installed and once the environment has stabilised the boxed archive material will be rehoused in the new repository. Then the work to reshelve the archive reference library books can begin. There is still a lot of work to do to get the place back to normal but it has been interesting watching the redevelopment and exciting to see all the changes take place.

Here are some photographs of the work from start to completion of the work, prior to commencing the move of materials:

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