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Conservation Guidelines

HANDLING GUIDELINES - Help us to preserve Cumbria`s archives!

On your visit to Cumbria's Archive Centres you will have access to a wide range of unique and irreplaceable archives that illuminates our county's history. You can play your part in helping to secure their survival for future researchers.

What we are doing
Repeated handling of the unique records in our care gradually reduces their natural life. The most commonly used materials for old documents, such as paper, parchment and wax seals, inevitably and progressively deteriorate over time. We can, however, slow down this process very significantly by taking suitable precautions. 

We can copy fragile items onto microfilm or digitise them
We provide modern transcripts whenever possible
We protect the documents by using special acid-free packaging and by keeping our strongrooms at the most favourable temperature and humidity

What you can do
In the interests of preventive care you will, therefore, be asked to use microfilm copies, digital images or transcriptions whenever these are available.

Staff are here to assist and guide you when handling physically awkward items - please ask for help. Old bound volumes are caused strain when opened flat. It is essential to make use of the book cushions, book wedges and book 'snake' weights whenever possible. 

We realise you may want photocopies of documents. Please bear in mind that although we will supply photocopies whenever possible, where the type and condition of the original record could result in further damage we will not be able to offer this service. You can take your own photographs, on purchase of a licence, or arrange for our specialist digitisation team to provide you with high quality digital images.

Our handling guidelines
Please help to protect the archives by following these guidelines: 

Hands should be clean and rewashed as necessary to avoid dirtying other items
Please avoid touching the text of documents. Ask the staff for a protective sheet of transparent material ("Melinex") to lay across documents and pages
Always use the wedges and supports for bound volumes
Keep items safely and securely on the table or desk
Ask the staff for clean gloves when consulting photographic materials
Please don't lean on items, even when they are covered with the transparent sheets
Ask the staff for guidance if a map tracing is required
Ask staff for acid-free paper slips if you need to mark your place
Please don't place any of your own items on or inside the records
Please use a pencil to make your notes

Thank you for your effort in helping to preserve Cumbria's archives.