Optimising Space Through Innovative Archiving and Storage

Companies and public organizations face increasing problems with paper record storage. They cannot outsource archives if they need frequent access to them. So an innovative storage design is a necessity. 

Space Optimisation

Libraries and archive centres as well as companies face the problem of squeezing an increasing number of records into a fixed or decreasing space. The challenge is to offer a high density storage system with ease of access. Static shelves allow access to multiple users. So it is important that even the tiniest space is used efficiently. This means that the system has to be flush and fit around all corners and pillars in any space.

If the space available does not allow enough access to aisles in static storage systems, a mobile single aisle system could be the solution. Moveable racks on rails will allow ease of access to the records along a single aisle. The racks may be operated manually or electrically depending on their location, access frequency and storage load. This is often the best solution for libraries that keep older collections in a basement space. It can reduce the needed storage space by half.

Two-tier or multi-tier storage solutions work well with very high storage areas. The shelving units, whether static or mobile, support one or more platforms along which people can walk to access the archive. When these platforms are supported by the framework on the narrow side of a mobile shelving unit, they can reduce the storage space required for a given archive volume by up to 400%.

Historical Archives

Historical archives and artefacts whether in museums or private collections, require a temperature and humidity controlled environment to avoid deterioration. Valuable collections may need a 24-hour security system and a controlled, limited access. The storage also needs to comply with local and national fire regulation, detection and suppression standards. Researchers and other clients will need to access either the original document or artefact, or a digital record, also in secure surroundings.

Ultraviolet light from standard lighting fixtures can damage paper, parchment and leather. Visible light in the storage system should be adjusted to allow readers good visibility but ensure document preservation.

Particle emissions and pollution are a constant danger to archive storage as these may be brought into the archive on the clothing of people accessing the system. Insects are a common danger as these can emerge from the tiniest spaces. Steel is the best surface for storing historical archives. It is smooth and allows for the documents to be balanced delicately. Galvanised surfaces are not recommended as the zinc oxide galvanizing agent tends to leave black deposits over time on articles in contact with it. This reaction worsens when humidity in the storage area is not adequately controlled.

Mobile storage can be adapted to historical archives but the temperature and humidity of the storage space must be controlled. Temperature and humidity sensors in air ducts should be checked regularly to ensure that they are recording correctly. The storage racks should be able to move smoothly and remain vibration free to ensure delicate objects are not damaged.

Building maintenance and management is an important component of systems for the storage of historical archives. If an organisation outsources this service, it must ensure strict compliance with all environmental and safety standards in the outsourcing contract.

Companies and other organisations should design their storage systems for archives to ensure ease of access with an optimal use of space. Historical collections require special consideration around temperature, humidity and storage materials.


Hazel Green writes regularly on archive storage for a range of websites and blogs. In this article she is sharing some valuable information with us on optimising space through innovative archiving and storage.

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