Course:4: Housing Your Collections
Lesson:Lesson 1: Assessing and Improving Your Building
Topic:Good, Better, and Best Storage Areas


Good, Better, Best Storage Areas 

Your storage area needs to be the best it can be; but it will probably never be perfect! So based on the notes you took on Your Building’s Bio worksheet, take a minute to determine what actions you think should be your first priorities in improving your facility. Keep in mind that the actions you list should be practical things that are feasible for your specific situation. 

Your goal should be to meet the following "Good" criteria for all your storage areas: 

Good – The Bottom Line in Storage

  • Keep a locked storage area.
  •  Maintain a steady temperature with as little daily fluctuation as possible.
  • Maintain a steady relative humidity level with as little daily fluctuation as possible.
  • Shelves should be constructed so they are at least 4 inches off the floor to ensure they are protected from minor flooding.
  • Maintain a low light level, keeping lights turned off as much as possible and sunlight out of the storage area.
  • Smoke alarms should be installed in every storage area and on every level of the building; they should be routinely checked.
  • Fire extinguishers should be placed in every storage area and routinely checked; staff should be trained in how to use them.
  • Conduct regular fire drills.
  • Seek inspection and input from the local fire department.
  • The area should be as clean as possible. No food, drink, trash, cleaning supplies, etc. should be maintained in the storage area. All attract pests such as insects and rodents to the storage area.
  • Monitor for pests. 

These are minimum standards for storage of archival records. Click here to see a chart showing Good, Better and Best storage conditions for archival records. 

Steady temperatures

 Relative humidity
Steady relative humidity

dim lightbulb
Maintain a low light level.

 Smoke Detector
Install smoke alarms.

Fire Alarm
Conduct regular fire drills.

 Fire inspector
Have your facility inspected by your local fire department.