Since July 2010, the Archives have been undertaking a Preservation Assessment Survey to get a better understanding of the current state of the condition of the archives which will highlight preservation needs and priorities. This survey is funded by the Scottish Council on Archives and the British Library. Prior to starting the survey, Jennifer attended two training sessions at the National Archives of Scotland where she heard about other repositories’ experiences of using the survey and was able to see how to carry it out in practice.
The survey requires us to look at a random sample of approximately 400 items from the collections. For each item a questionnaire has to be completed which is split into two sections. The first looks at areas such as access, use, where and how it is housed, while the second section assesses any physical damage to the item. This information is then input into a database which is later analysed by the Preservation Advisory Centre and the results are presented in a report. This will flag up any areas where attention needs to be focused.
So far, we have surveyed 138 items so we still have a way to go! However it is encouraging to see that the majority of those assessed are in good condition with not much damage. Under the criteria of the survey a large percentage of the records has been classed as being part of the national documentary heritage and of having particular value and importance to the University of Dundee.