Thursday 22 April 2010

'Who thought it was a good idea to put an Archive in the basement?'

This remark was made by one of the University's Estates team to a colleague this morning after he visited to Archive Services in response to water running down a riser close to the Archive store. It turns out that some nine floors above the Archive, renovations to a bathroom had required the use of liquid to lubricate a drill. It found its way into the riser and ran down to the lowest point emerging through the ceiling and into a distribution cupboard adjacent to our stack space. We heard the splashing as the liquid ran into the cupboard so took the precautionary step of moving the collections and putting up plastic sheeting over the shelves closest to the leak. As well as the sheeting we had cloths, buckets etc to hand in our disaster kits.

No harm came to any of the items from our collections and the water has been cleaned up. We've a dehumidifier running to help dry out some damp patches of concrete and things are getting back to normal after this little incident. However, this has been a useful reminder of the requirement to be aware of any construction work going on in and around the building in which your repository is housed, no matter how remote that seems. It also highlights the benefits of having recovery materials to hand.

It has also been interesting to hear the different perspectives of people unfamiliar with the nature of archives. When asked how much liquid had been used one of the construction workers replied that we shouldn't worry as it wasn't very much; 'only three gallons or so'! Thankfully only a small amount of that found its way into the riser and down to the distribution cupboard. Rather ironically, tomorrow is the final day of the current semester for students taking the CAIS course 'Disaster Management for Information Professionals'.

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