In business since 1996
- Krause House Info-Research Solutions -





By Eric Krause

Krause House Info-Research Solutions

March 06, 2002

What is an Archives?

- A place where records of enduring value, in the broadest sense are housed, arranged, preserved, and made available for use.

- A place where records of an enduring value, in the strictest sense are acquired, appraised, accessioned, arranged, described, conserved and secured.

- A place that relies on certain basic professional principles for the organization of its records, with the two most important being the adherence to provenance (chain of ownership) and respect des fonds (original order.)

Staffing this Archives

.- It will require volunteers with a knowledge (when hired or soon thereafter) of archival principles, techniques, and manuals such as A Manual for Small Archives (Archives Association of British Columbia (AABC), 1994.)

- The volunteers must be familiar with the local area and its people.


- It must be a general location which Louisbourg and surrounding area people will readily recognize as the repository for their old records.

- It must be a safe, secure and permanent location with a dedicated storage space for the collection isolated from heavy traffic.

- Ideally, the collection would be located at the core of a building where access can be limited, and environmental and security controls can be kept tight.

- User spaces would be placed adjacent to the core.

- Volunteer staff offices, washrooms, and handicap accessibility are necessary considerations.


- Records must be stored in safe archival containers or in baked enamel file cabinets and shelves.

- If the collection has a high requirement for flat storage, this is a costly and high space use consideration.

- It cannot be placed in a basement, attic, or garage for a variety of reasons including the need for stable temperature and humidity conditions.

- A general rule: 40% relative humidity (no more than +/- 5%RH, with +/- 3%RH considered an ideal) and a temperature of 68 degrees Fahrenheit is ideal for documents (and for human comfort), but if not achievable, then strive for a stable environment at whatever temperature.

Collection Survey

- Determine the existing holdings and estimation of the level of future depositions.

Mission Statement or Collection Policy

- Determine the purpose of the archival collection which in turn becomes the guide in deciding what to keep and what to reject.

- Appraise all records:

(1) What is the significance or historic value of this material?

(2) Is it appropriate for the archives?

(3) Is another archives already collecting this?

(4) Are there copies available elsewhere?

(5) Are there sufficient resources to take care of this material according to archival standards?

Records Management: Acquisition, Appraisal, Accession, Arrangement, Description, Conservation and Security

- Identify what records exist and appraise them as to which are worthwhile for acquisition.

- Accession the material (i.e. register it, identifying the donor, type of donation, level of access, and its existing physical condition.)

- Arrange and describe the material to allow for its timely and safe access.

- The description standard (i.e. a reference system) can range from the complex (e.g. General International Standard Archival Description) to the simple (unique identifier), whichever works best within given resources.

- The requirements for preserving materials is as varied as the kinds of materials collected (e.g. books, film, newspapers, drawings, prints, posters, maps, documents, computer disks, etc. will all require a different level of care.)

- Store the records in ways that result in the least amount of deterioration over time due to the effects of light, temperature, and humidity.

- Where possible, focus on digitizing depositions with the goal of preservation while making material readily available to the end-user.

Steps in Creating an Archives

- Conduct a general survey or preliminary inventory of the records in the community which the archives will be acquiring.

- Identify the user requirements of the building in which the archives will be housed.

- Produce a cost analysis.

- Secure financial support: e.g. building construction/acquisition, initial setup, on-going operational requirements, equipment acquisition.

- Contact a professional archivist for advice.

- Join The Association of Canadian Archivists (ACA) and the Council of Nova Scotia Archives (CNSA).

- Computerized catalogues and finding aids, and the digitization and microfilming of records, is an essential consideration.

New Building or Building Addition - Some Considerations

(Note: This is based in part on a 1995 proposal for a new archives at the Fortress of Louisbourg)

(A) Wall Structures and Ceiling

The outside wall requires an air barrier/vapour barrier, insulation and metal stud construction. The inside wall and ceiling should be drywall and paint. The interior ceiling height is a minimum of 15' (ideally 17') with shelving at 10'-12'. The balance between remaining at the top of the shelving to be left free for ducting services and air circulation.

(B) Insulation

The following are minimum recommendations for the insulation of the building, increased values will provide greater internal environmental stability. Ceilings R 30-40 and R 14-21 for walls, the higher values for colder areas of the country. The higher value should be considered for this project.

(C) Vapour/Air Barrier

The need for a vapour/air barrier is required and the continuity of this barrier across all wall-floor-ceiling joints is required. The vapour/air barrier must be located on the warm side of the insulation. Leaks in the barrier will lead to condensation forming on the outside walls and ultimately undermining the building fabric.

(D) Glazing

The glazing requirements for the building should be based on the 2.5% design temperature for January given in Climatic Information for Building Design in Canada. The windows are limited to external wall locations with human occupancy to provide natural light to the spaces. The windows need to be foiled to reduce the solar gain and light intensity in the rooms and to control the ultra-violet light radiation content. The possible use of collection materials in these rooms requires the foil application. The widows should minimally be double glazed and thermally broken.

(E) Fire Wall

The facility should include a fire wall if attached to an existing building

(F) Roof

The roof should not be flat. It should be peaked with run-off directed to the side of the building and then channelled away from the building footprint. If the practice of draining the roof with waste water pipe through the building is chosen the roof should be canted into the centre of the building and the plumbing runs should be down the centre of the building. The pipe run should not travel through any of the storage or functional use areas in which collection materials are stored or used.

(G) Floor

Without a Basement:

The floor should be concrete slab poured on grade. The floor must have a vapour barrier and be insulated.

(H) Services

The collection materials must kept away from plumbing runs and waste water runs thereby improving the collections security. The space should be sprinklered with a wet pipe system.

(I) Climate Control and Climatic Zoning

The climate control for the space should be a recirculating air system. The control of the spaces can be either thermostatic or humidistatic. The human occupancy of the building suggests that it should have conventional thermostatic controls since human comfort will be a consideration in these occupancy areas. The primary goal in the entire building is the control of humidity but humidistatic controlled spaces can, on occasion, become uncomfortable for human occupancy.

The controls for the collection should be set at +/- 5%RH. The use of building automation systems and electronic controls would provide +/-3%RH but the preservation of the collections does not demand this level of technology unless the client wishes to use the electronic building management system to monitor building operational options. Note that the control tolerance value of +/-5%RH DOES NOT INDICATE THAT SWINGS OF +/-5% ARE ACCEPTABLE ON A DAILY OR EVEN WEEKLY BASIS. The daily fluctuation in the space must not exceed +/-3%RH. Ideally a steady state should be maintained with a gentle modulation between values rather than spiking when the systems are activated and shut down.

The set points for the systems should be human comfort temperatures and 40%RH throughout the building.