4.4. Records storerooms
Many people pay attention to the transfer of records from the creating agency to the Records Centre without realising that there is the grey area of the storeroom and strongroom, a transitional period in which control can be lost altogether. It is unrealistic to expect that records can be transferred direct from the registry to the Records Centre, especially in those cases where the Records Centre is not part of the creating agency or it is physically located some distance away from the creating agency. Where this in fact happens without the use of an in-house storeroom or strongroom it only means that the records will be retained in the office and registry well beyond their active or current life. Many archival institutions indicated that records were retained in the creating agencies until they were some 15 to 25 years of age.
The transfer of records from the office and registry is however often unsystematic and uncontrolled. It is little realised that there are certain preconditions to this activity. To begin with, as with all record movements and transfers, there must be a mechanism for identifying what has been moved and to where it has been moved. In most instances records are merely dumped in the storeroom without any controls at all. The result is that once in the storeroom or strongroom it becomes a nightmare to try and retrieve any of the records and it is this loss of control and the difficulties of retrieval that make most people reluctant to transfer records from the office or registry.
There are two basic requirements for the transfer of records from the office to the storeroom. In the first instance a records transfer or transmittal list must be used to record details of the records being transferred and of the new location or storage area and position where they are to be found. The second requirement is that the storeroom must be organised and arranged.
4.4.1. It is essential that some form of shelving be used to facilitate storage. If there is no shelving it becomes difficult to locate the records required.
4.4.2. It is also necessary that the shelves be numbered in one way or another. In this respect, there are two main methods that can be used.
126.96.36.199. One way is to extend the office or registry filing systems into the storeroom so that if for instance it is an alpha-numeric system then the same alpha-numeric arrangement is found in the storeroom. In this way a file that is no longer in the filing cabinet in the office or registry is found in the equivalent position in the storeroom.
188.8.131.52. The above storeroom arrangement can however pose problems in that it is difficult to forecast the rate of expansion or accumulation of certain records series. To overcome this problem a location system can be used where the storeroom shelves are merely numbered sequentially and records shelved in the order in which they are retired and put on the shelves. The position of the records on the shelves is then recorded on the records transfer or transmittal list which becomes the primary instrument for the location of records. This indirect access system overcomes many problems and is simple to use even when some of the records are destroyed and shelf vacancies arise. It is the system that is used in most Records Centres.
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