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Preservation and conservation

Nottinghamshire Archives has a dedicated team devoted to the preservation and conservation of the archives it holds.


Preservation is the use of passive, non-interventative measures for the protection of an archive: not to alter physically the fabric of the archive by the use of chemicals or repair techniques.

This is achieved by providing:

  • environmentally controlled strongrooms where the temperature and humidity is stable, in accordance with the requirements of the National Archives for the 'Recommendations for the Storage and Exhibition of Archival Documents' 
  • appropriate storage facilities in accordance with the requirements of the National Archives which sets standards for shelf constructions, size etc
  • suitable packaging materials, eg acid-free boxes and wrapping paper
  • implementing a surrogacy policy for the most heavily used archives.

Surrogacy is defined as the replacement of an archive with a copy, while retaining the original, thereby preserving the original and providing easier or greater access to it.


Conservation is the use of active physical measures to prevent the further deterioration of an archive. Consideration has to be given to the use of:

  • approporiate chemicals and conservation grade materials to repair documents
  • suitable professional repair techniques
  • the minimum intervention required to ensure the continued existence of the item.

What services do the conservation staff offer?

There are three full time conservation staff employed by the Archives, which includes two professional posts.

Find out more about services to:

  • depositors of records

  • Nottinghamshire and Nottingham City Library Services

  • private individuals and organisations.

Services to depositors and donors of records to Nottinghamshire Archives

Preservation: monitor the environmental conditions in the strong rooms, and ensure all documents are suitable stored by wrapping them or making enclosures of boxes.They only use materials which are of archival quality.

The conservation staff also ensure that all staff are given training on the handling and cleaning of documents as part of their induction training and ensure all readers have access to guidelines for handling documents.

Conservation: carry out a full range of techniques including the repair of fragile and damaged paper and parchment documents, and repair seals, photographs, maps and plans. They also undertake the conservation and binding of manuscript volumes.

Exhibitions: Nottinghamshire Archives staff will give assistance with exhibitions and displays if advance notice of at least a month is provided, all of which are produced to the highest standard possible taking into account the preservation requirements of the items.

This includes the light levels of the venue and its security and stewardship.

Disaster Recovery Plan: the Archives has a full disaster recovery plan and training is given to all staff as to what to do in the event of a disaster occurring at the Archives.

Services to the Nottinghamshire and Nottingham City Library Services

Nottinghamshire Archives provides a conservation and preservation service for all local studies collections in county libraries and for the principal local studies library for both the county and the city at the Central Library in Nottingham.

This includes the repair of ephemera held by local studies and the fine binding of those local studies volumes which are not suitable (usually on grounds of age and rarity) to be sent to commercial binders.

Services to private individuals and organisations

Conservation staff can advise on the storage, condition and conservation of archives held by individuals or organisations.

For more information, please telephone: 0115 958 1634.

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