Course:4: Housing Your Collections
Lesson:Lesson 4: Conclusion
Topic:Course Summary

  Course Four Conclusion

Course Summary 

Making the most of the building that houses your collections is generally a study in common sense. Most historical records programs donít have a perfect facility or perfect policies and procedures. But you can make the most of what you have, fix obvious problems, and plan for security incidents and disasters. 

Too many programs fail to recognize the risks their collections face--from theft, vandalism, disaster, careless handling, or poor storage conditions. Yet there are basic steps that you can take to lessen these risks.  

Store Your Collections Wisely

You may not be able to afford specially designed climate control systems, water sensors, and sprinkler systems. But you can:

  • Have working smoke detectors and fire extinguishers
  • Make sure collections are raised 4 Ė 6 inches off the ground in case of flooding
  • Put plastic over collections on the top shelves in case a pipe above them bursts or leaks
  • Cover windows so collections arenít exposed to damaging light
  • Ask your local fire department to inspect your facility
  • Keep food and drink out of storage areas
  • Keep the area clean

Secure Your Collection Well

Good security can be put in place at minimal cost. With just a few dollars and some new rules, you can significantly improve the security of your collections. 

  • Install solid locks on doors and windows
  • Limit and keep track of who has keys to the facility
  • Ask the local police to drive by your facility routinely
  • Donít put too much information on your box labels Ė donít make it obvious whatís inside!
  • Require your users to register before using your collections
  • Supervise patrons as they use your unique historical records
  • Use and maintain call slips, so you know who has used your collections in case something comes up missing
  • Know what you have and where it should be

Plan for Emergencies:  They Can Happen to You

Itís easy to think that emergencies and disasters happen to other people. But the fact is, they can happen to any of us at any time. As a caretaker of unique historical records, your ultimate responsibility is to keep those records safe from harm. 

In Lesson 3 you began to create your own disaster plan--essentially compilation of many different kinds of lists that help you know how to respond when disaster strikes.  

Continue putting this information together when you get ďback to work.Ē Then distribute it; post appropriate emergency response bulletins, and keep them up to date. If you ever have a disaster, make sure that when itís over, you evaluate how your plan worked and make any necessary changes. 

Whether small or large, all programs that care for historical records must do what they can to ensure the preservation, security, and safety of those records.

Minimize your risks by taking the steps described to the left.


Tub of records resting on a pipe
These tubs of records resting on a suspended pipe are a disaster waiting to happen.

 Fire extinguisher


Evacuation plan

 Emergency Plan