Our holdings are estimated at over 7 million items. They take up 110,000 linear metres of shelving space in our archives across the country. That’s about 112 kilometres when laid out end to end. Our archives include paper documents from the 1700s to the present day. As well as bound material, paintings and works on paper, audio visual materials, photographs, maps and plans, microfilm and digital records.

Our preservation strategy focuses on records that are at high risk of loss or damage. This risk is due to deterioration of materials, or to the media becoming out of date and unreadable.

We work to reduce the need for preservation by maintaining our storage environment to suit the needs of our records. Measures are taken to slow the rate of decay of precious objects and protect them from damage. These include methods of environmental control, storage, handling, pest control, and disaster planning. These allow us more time to manage the preservation treatments required so that we minimise the loss of information.

Hands scraping damaged material off an old map
A Conservator works on a fragile map

Our team conserve records by assessing their condition, stabilising and treating them. This is in preparation for digitisation, exhibition, loan to other institutions, or for use by researchers in our reading rooms. Treatment of documents can include the removal of mould, the safe flattening of folded or rolled material, or repairs where material has suffered damage or decay. Our staff digitise records to make fragile items accessible to researchers, and to help protect them from any further damage which may come with handling.