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Storing collections: shelving

Good shelving is important to protect the collections from adverse environmental conditions and to ensure items can be located easily.

What you can do (in order of priority):

Shelving should fully support the collections stored on them (eg they should be big enough to hold maps and large/heavy boxes). Boxes of archive materials can be very heavy so ensure the shelves can take the weight.

Collections should be stored on open metal shelving which is secured to the floor and ceiling, but not fixed directly to exterior walls (to avoid damp spreading). If you are storing the archive in cupboards or filing cabinets, ensure they are opened regularly.

If you do not have metal shelving, store boxed material or bound volumes in wooden shelving or cabinets that are, preferably, sealed with a water-based varnish. Unvarnished wood can give off acetic acid, which causes chemical damage to archive materials and can make them deteriorate faster. You may want to consider medium density fibreboard (MDF), which is a board made from wood fibres bound with resin and is commonly used for building storage units. Zero-formaldehyde MDF is recommended for wooden shelving, as this does not release emissions that may cause damage.

Shelving should be open-fronted and easy to access. Open shelves also allow easy inspection and cleaning.

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