Tuesday 14 April 2015

A breath of fresh air….

The air handling systems we have here at the Borthwick were installed just over 10 years ago ahead of our move from our old site at St. Anthony’s Hall. They work 24 hours a day, 7 days a week and help, along with the building’s design, to keep a consistent level of both temperature and humidity in our strongrooms and our searchrooms - including our microfilm room. If you’ve visited us in the past, you will have heard it rumbling quietly away in the background.

The reason we control the temperature and humidity is quite simple - it’s better for the documents! Every document we hold here is entirely unique and irreplaceable and correct environmental conditions help to preserve our collections for you to use in the future.

As you can imagine, constant use of a system for just over ten years means that things need replacing to make sure we can provide those optimum conditions. We have a short window this spring to undertake work to replace and renew our air handling system. We have chosen this period as it’s the ideal time to do this - right in between the cold of the winter and heat (and humidity) of a British Summer!

This is where the magic happens.

Sadly, this means there will be some unavoidable impact on the services we can offer you. For the period 23rd April-8th May we’ll need to operate our searchroom and document delivery service from our Lifelong Learning space on the the top floor of our building - right by our exhibition space.

This is so the air handling equipment in the searchroom and microfilm room can be replaced with the smallest amount of disruption possible. The air handling equipment in these spaces is housed in the ceiling, so for the sake of safety and disruption we’ve chosen to relocate for the duration.

Our Lifelong Learning room is slightly smaller than our usual surroundings, so for the duration of this work we’ll only be able to accommodate eight readers at a time and  - sadly - we won’t be able to open our microform space as work will be underway there too.

As we’re only able to help a smaller number of researchers than usual during this time, please get in touch to book your space if you’d like to visit us during the course of the air handling works as we will only be able to accommodate pre-booked researchers.

Our searchroom

Beyond our searchroom and microfilm spaces, we’ll also be replacing air handling equipment in our Conservation and Accessions/processing spaces too - so if you’re visiting us over the next few days, there may be a some unavoidable noise from upstairs and outside which we’ll try to keep to a minimum.

We won’t know until the work starts how much disruption may be caused, so check our website, twitter account (@UoYBorthwick) and on Facebook for the latest news.

The benefits of this work will be felt for at least another 10 years and will ensure we can continue to care for our shared heritage in the best possible conditions, both while you’re using our archives in our searchroom, and while they lie in our strongrooms waiting for you to discover them.

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