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rolt968

Flooding: National Records of Scotland

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rolt968
Posted (edited)

Did anyone else notice this?

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-edinburgh-east-fife-49164095

 

I hope they do try to dry and preserve them.

There is no guarantee until you look at it that the digitised versions are very legible. (In the early days of scotlandspeople they would rescan if necessary.)

I have already struggled with a 1911 Census of one parish which was stained and illegible across two thirds of nearly every page.

RM

Edited by rolt968

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Open Bolt

Dreadful news. Does "no significant damage to records" mean a small percentage lost or a few damp edges...

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rolt968
1 hour ago, Open Bolt said:

Dreadful news. Does "no significant damage to records" mean a small percentage lost or a few damp edges...

Yes. I'm a bit worried that they seem to be giving the impression that all is well because they have digitised copies.

RM

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seaJane

Latest news from their Deputy Keeper, as seen on a professional listserv of which I am a member:-

 

"You may have seen stories in the media and through listservs, which have discussed water ingress and have made claims about significant damage caused to documents held by National Records of Scotland. I thought it would be helpful to clarify the situation.

 

Following significant rainfall last week, a small number of records held at New Register House, dating  from the late 19th century to the mid 20th century were slightly affected by water. Our procedures for dealing with incidents which have the potential to affect our records and documents were implemented. The source of the leak was quickly repaired and all affected records have been successfully treated by our team of expert conservators. No documents were lost."

 

sJ

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voltaire60

Why,oh why,oh why do archives insist on storing  materials underneath water pipes or below  the water level. This happens over and over and over again.  The first tranche of the Renier Collection of childrens and chap literature-  a lifetime's work was given by given by them-father and daughter-to the V and A. Stored underneath water pipes in a basement. Result- 1) Flood and destruction  2) Reniers so annoyed that the rest of the collection was deliberately sold off rather than placed.

   My old bookshop was on the site of the proposed new British Library in Bloomsbury in the 1970s.  There were 2 curious little metal vents in a courtyard outside (still are) and a further 2 in the road (Bury Place) just in front-  the vents for an unrecorded underground stream that ran from St. Pancras southwards. And the BL plans only envisaged 7 floors below ground level!!    Every time I go to TNA, I wonder on the wisdom of having it sited next to the Thames- and,although the ornamental lake is quite pleasant-should it really be so close??

 

     The Arnside Fire and subsequent catastrophes only shows that archivists will nag about the use of pencils, etc-perhaps only to have everything properly preserved to destroy wholesale through casual negligence at a later date

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rolt968
11 minutes ago, voltaire60 said:

Why,oh why,oh why do archives insist on storing  materials underneath water pipes or below  the water level. This happens over and over and over again.  The first tranche of the Renier Collection of childrens and chap literature-  a lifetime's work was given by given by them-father and daughter-to the V and A. Stored underneath water pipes in a basement. Result- 1) Flood and destruction  2) Reniers so annoyed that the rest of the collection was deliberately sold off rather than placed.

   My old bookshop was on the site of the proposed new British Library in Bloomsbury in the 1970s.  There were 2 curious little metal vents in a courtyard outside (still are) and a further 2 in the road (Bury Place) just in front-  the vents for an unrecorded underground stream that ran from St. Pancras southwards. And the BL plans only envisaged 7 floors below ground level!!    Every time I go to TNA, I wonder on the wisdom of having it sited next to the Thames- and,although the ornamental lake is quite pleasant-should it really be so close??

 

     The Arnside Fire and subsequent catastrophes only shows that archivists will nag about the use of pencils, etc-perhaps only to have everything properly preserved to destroy wholesale through casual negligence at a later date

I'm not sure where these records were stored, but water seems to have got through one of the domes (at least one of them by Adam). A number of records, notably sasine registers were stored on shelves in the domes.

RM

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voltaire60

Thanks RM-  it has saddened me across the years to see many archive and book resources casually damaged and wasted in similar ways.  

 

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rolt968
30 minutes ago, voltaire60 said:

Thanks RM-  it has saddened me across the years to see many archive and book resources casually damaged and wasted in similar ways.  

 

I sympathise with your comments. Unfortunately local archives are sometimes given buildings which are far from ideal. The point about water pipes and the water table is well made. Archives are not alone in this. I approached a local newspaper some years ago about consulting their WW1 back copies, only to find that they had lost a lot of back copies in a basement flood.

RM

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voltaire60
1 hour ago, rolt968 said:

I sympathise with your comments. Unfortunately local archives are sometimes given buildings which are far from ideal. The point about water pipes and the water table is well made. Archives are not alone in this. I approached a local newspaper some years ago about consulting their WW1 back copies, only to find that they had lost a lot of back copies in a basement flood.

RM

 

      Happened locally in Stratford  (the crap one not the Shakespeare one).  Basement flood. Our former Local Studies librarian was working as that borough's reference librarian at the time- tales of volumes bobbing amongst the waves.. With the odd consequence that the BL of the main paper is now not fit to produce- and they kept no microfilm set. Thus, I have to use the BL's microfilm in Stratford, as the hard copy was flooded-while I cannot get the item at all at BL.  Come back Jimmy Durante and Spencer Tracy- Its a Mad,Mad World-  esp. in archives.

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seaJane
3 hours ago, voltaire60 said:

Why,oh why,oh why do archives insist on storing  materials underneath water pipes or below  the water level

Not quite sure what in the NLS quotation triggered this?

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voltaire60
25 minutes ago, seaJane said:

Not quite sure what in the NLS quotation triggered this?

 

   Nothing in particular-  just the  juxtaposition of the words "water" and "archive". It always means trouble.

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seaJane

Can't legislate against rain unfortunately. Nor even against architects (much) and business managers / accountants.

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David_Underdown
6 hours ago, voltaire60 said:

Every time I go to TNA, I wonder on the wisdom of having it sited next to the Thames- and,although the ornamental lake is quite pleasant-should it really be so close??

The lakes are actually (as I understand it) part of the flood protection scheme for the site, being designed to capture run-off.  The raised "podium" around Q1 (the original building) is also there to protect the basement against flooding (and no records are permanently stored in the basement).

 

See my blog post from a couple of months ago https://blog.nationalarchives.gov.uk/digital-archiving-is-a-risky-business/.

 

Storage of arcive material in unfortunate locations can usually be shown to have been against the advice of archivists, unfortunately we don't always have enough clout with the powers that be to achieve better, though things like the Archives Accreditation standard do help.

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rolt968
8 hours ago, seaJane said:

Latest news from their Deputy Keeper, as seen on a professional listserv of which I am a member:-

 

"You may have seen stories in the media and through listservs, which have discussed water ingress and have made claims about significant damage caused to documents held by National Records of Scotland. I thought it would be helpful to clarify the situation.

 

Following significant rainfall last week, a small number of records held at New Register House, dating  from the late 19th century to the mid 20th century were slightly affected by water. Our procedures for dealing with incidents which have the potential to affect our records and documents were implemented. The source of the leak was quickly repaired and all affected records have been successfully treated by our team of expert conservators. No documents were lost."

 

sJ

Thanks Jane

 

I missed your post the first time round. That is better phrased than the statement which seems to have reached the BBC originally which seemed to imply that all was well as the records had been digitised.

 

I knew that archives and indeed libraries had to have procedures for dealing with such emergencies,

 

(Ironically, New Register House is very far from new! There have been proposals in recent years to create a modern purpose built NRS building. There was quite a bit of opposition - I haven't heard anything recently.)

 

RM

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voltaire60
13 hours ago, David_Underdown said:

The lakes are actually (as I understand it) part of the flood protection scheme for the site, being designed to capture run-off.  The raised "podium" around Q1 (the original building) is also there to protect the basement against flooding (and no records are permanently stored in the basement).

 

See my blog post from a couple of months ago https://blog.nationalarchives.gov.uk/digital-archiving-is-a-risky-business/.

 

Storage of arcive material in unfortunate locations can usually be shown to have been against the advice of archivists, unfortunately we don't always have enough clout with the powers that be to achieve better, though things like the Archives Accreditation standard do help.

 

      Thank you David-  I had guessed  that Kew was built deliberately that way- not just  to sate my  wish to say Hello to the good-natured geese, swans, ducks and the occasional heron, which is always a pleasure..  I had thought it was to provide a water reservoir in case of fire.. My understanding was that Kew was not quite the ideal location originally but that the site was already government-owned and available. It's good to know-and reassuring- that  "run-off" plans have been factored in. In my part of London-as with most others, the pattern of local parks and ponds is not quite a random outcome of Victorian and Edwardian speculative builders. Builders, of course, tended to make the parks on lands that had drainage problems or which became the drainage focus after housing was built.  A very complex and under-researched topic- that by diverting drainage into "parks", then that aided the growth of London suburbanization.. When I walk down from Kew Gardens tube, I am always struck that the area must have good drainage as otherwise the builders of all those lovely roads around TNA would not have happened-they were too middle-class when built to be "at risk" from regular flooding.

    That said, and TNA  is a good Keeper of archives, then the general principle of mixing water and archives still remains.  In my former day job as a bookseller, I have come across all too many collections of books and archives casually destroyed or damaged. When I look at the BL site and it's world heritage work for threatened libraries and archives, then I think there are still plenty of places to look closer to home.  I think there are still great problems in this country in archive material being lost at "gate of entry" into archives-that is, the archive is well-run and efficient,etc but it turns away deposits-usually on grounds of  "space"- and the materials are subsequently destroyed. Yes, I am aware of  Business Archives Council,etc and have helped place  papers that would otherwise have been destroyed - But I do feel that getting the gold stars, the ticks and the badges for this ,that and the other by archives does hide a problem of destruction by turning away.

    As for the situation in Scotland, then really no excuse-the sub-text is lack of space but  in the longer term what has happened has a certain inevitability about it.

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David_Underdown

Well it is a little sobering to look at https://flood-map-for-planning.service.gov.uk/confirm-location?easting=519566&northing=177198&placeOrPostcode=tw9 4du - there was a sharp intake of breath when I showed this in an internal meeting recently for people to see it in black (or rather blue) and white.  But the key thing is "benefitting from flood defences" I guess, plus as previously mentioned, design aspects of the building itself.

 

Selection and appraisal will always have to take place, there is a limit to what can properly be looked after.  Archives Accreditation does, I understand, look at collection development and so on as well, not just at how a service looks after what it already has, and has been used by more than one service to help build a business case for better facilities.

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voltaire60
On ‎06‎/‎08‎/‎2019 at 14:52, David_Underdown said:

Well it is a little sobering to look at https://flood-map-for-planning.service.gov.uk/confirm-location?easting=519566&northing=177198&placeOrPostcode=tw9 4du - there was a sharp intake of breath when I showed this in an internal meeting recently for people to see it in black (or rather blue) and white.  But the key thing is "benefitting from flood defences" I guess, plus as previously mentioned, design aspects of the building itself.

 

Selection and appraisal will always have to take place, there is a limit to what can properly be looked after.  Archives Accreditation does, I understand, look at collection development and so on as well, not just at how a service looks after what it already has, and has been used by more than one service to help build a business case for better facilities.

 

      I think I will start to worry when TNA start issuing life jackets as I get through the revolving door at Kew  :wub:

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Open Bolt
On ‎05‎/‎08‎/‎2019 at 14:37, rolt968 said:

water seems to have got through one of the domes (at least one of them by Adam).

Robert Adam or the biblical chap?

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voltaire60
On ‎06‎/‎08‎/‎2019 at 14:52, David_Underdown said:

Well it is a little sobering to look at https://flood-map-for-planning.service.gov.uk/confirm-location?easting=519566&northing=177198&placeOrPostcode=tw9 4du - there was a sharp intake of breath when I showed this in an internal meeting recently for people to see it in black (or rather blue) and white.  But the key thing is "benefitting from flood defences" I guess, plus as previously mentioned, design aspects of the building itself.

 

Selection and appraisal will always have to take place, there is a limit to what can properly be looked after.  Archives Accreditation does, I understand, look at collection development and so on as well, not just at how a service looks after what it already has, and has been used by more than one service to help build a business case for better facilities.

 

    Back at TNA tomorrow- I am taking my water wings just in case:wub:

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