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Copying and Conservation Policy

The Archives Service has an over-riding responsibility to ensure the safe preservation of the records. At times this may conflict with the needs of users who want copies. We must emphasise that:

  • If an item is likely to be damaged by any copying process, then permission to copy may be refused.
  • Staff may insist on the use of a specific (and possibly more expensive) method of copying in order to minimise the risk of damage to a particular document. Alternative copying methods may take longer and may not be available on demand.
  • Copies will always be made from microfilms, copy photographs and scans where such surrogate copies exist. In this way, copies can be made without risk of damage to the originals.

Where requests are made for copies of original documents, the following guidelines will be followed:

  • Single-sheet items of paper or parchment will generally be copied provided they fit comfortably on the platen of the photocopier or camera copying stand.
  • Single-sheet items – larger than the platen size of the copier  – will only be copied if they are felt by staff to be robust  enough and can be adequately supported to allow the  process to be carried out without risking any damage.
  • Heavily folded parchment documents and items consisting of several membranes sewn together are liable to damage as the binding may be stressed and the ink may flake off. These will only be copied if staff are satisfied that they are not put at risk by copying.
  • Large maps will not normally be photocopied, but photography may be possible. The Archives Service has black and white photographic negatives  and copy prints of many maps and so alternative means of providing copies are often available.
  • Bound volumes may be copied if they can be put comfortably on the platen or copying stand without stress to  the binding. Consideration will also be given to the style of  the binding (tight-backed volumes will not normally be  copied), the condition of the board attachment, sewing,  paper and covering materials
  • Documents carrying pendant seals will only be copied if the seal can be sufficiently supported. Items with applied paper seals or embossed seals may be copied  provided the seals are intact and are handled with  caution.
  • Documents in tied bundles or with guard and file bindings will be undone by staff before copying and re-assembled afterwards.
  • Original photographs and pictures such as watercolours are harmed by exposure to heat and light. Consequently, these items will not be photocopied, but alternative copying methods will be offered where possible.