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Glamorgan Archive

The recent opening of the new Glamorgan Archive in Cardiff not only provides a vital facility for the area but also demonstrates state-of-the-art design and equipment specification. Central to the operation of the four-storey repository and associated public access and staff facilities is highly versatile, Link 51 shelving – installed not only to meet specific requirements in terms of versatility, but also to fulfil both current and long-term storage requirements for the next 25 years.

Supplying a joint service to six local authorities in the south-east region of Wales, the layout of the new Archive is designed to accommodate an extensive variety and volume of local records. These range from local authority, county and borough council details, to court and police files as well as historically important individual and corporate documentation.

Replacing a fragmented and outgrown facility, the new building brings all the relevant records under one roof for the first time – greatly enhancing both storage efficiency and effective access to the material held.

“It was vital that the shelving installation reflected key requirements specified at site,” comments Susan Edwards, Glamorgan Archivist, “which pointed towards the Link 51 solution as being the optimum choice. These not only included the need to maximise storage volume within the available footprint but also to provide a degree of versatility that could house a diverse collection of material ranging from parchments the oldest of which dates from the 12th century – to large volumes of corporate records, plans and maps. The latter are stored both horizontally and vertically and, in some cases, measure up to four metres by three metres in size.” By way of example, she points out that, in the case of the storage boxes alone, no less than 30,000 units of 10 different sizes are accommodated by the layout.

Importantly, for the first time, the Glamorgan Archive is now able to accommodate stored material arranged by size, with each item allocated a number that is then matched not just to location but also shelf type – dramatically simplifying access and retrieval. “Shelving characteristics such as height and pitch can then be selected to provide the optimum position for each individual item,” continues Susan Edwards, “whilst the range and type of Link 51 shelving specified also enables us to reconfigure the layout without difficulty should conditions dictate over the next 25 years.” At present, she points out that some 8,000 linear metres of shelving is stocked with well in excess of 2,000 metres more still available, while a new dedicated ‘Media Room’ is also due to open soon.

The decision to use mobile shelving for the majority of the storage facility on each environmentally controlled floor – or ‘strong-room’ – reflects the key requirement to to maximise the capacity of the new facility. “Because most of the shelving can thus be kept in a closed position, with access aisles only opened as required, the capacity of the ‘storage cube’ can be greatly enhanced,” comments Link 51’s Project Manager, Rob Dakin. Close liaison was held between Glamorgan Archive and Link 51 to ensure the overall weight arising from the resultant storage density was accommodated by the design ofthe floor structure at the new premises. Mobile bays are then simply moved on tracks embedded into the floor via the action of a lightweight, ergonomically designed hand wheel.

Rob Dakin also highlights other key product solutions provided such as plan chests and cantilevered shelving, both benefiting from location within the mobile facility while, throughout, the interaction of the frames and the uprights allows 100% shelf accessibility. “These factors, alongside shelving down to within 150 mm of the floor, are also of particular relevance in the context of BS 5454 Accreditation,” he says. “We also took the decision to utilise areas of static Link 51 shelving in certain parts of the building,” adds Susan Edwards. “This was specifically to accommodate items which would be considered too delicate to be subjected even to the movement of mobile shelving – as controlled and as smooth as this is.”

The impressive design of the new Glamorgan Archive will be widely acknowledged in the profession as being a highly significant development both for the region and nationally. The opportunity to bring together separate operations into one purpose-designed facility has been addressed head-on, and the decision to align both the layout and the equipment selection to achieve defined aims can be noted throughout the build programme. “We believe the decision to specify both our mobile and static shelving systems as well as more specialist archive equipment such as plan chests, pays testimony to the equipment design and to our expertise in this highly specialist field,” adds Rob Dakin.

“We are very proud to have been associated with this project and are confident that the installation will now play a key role in the provision of a vital service in the area for many years to come. We also believe that the specification used will be an excellent benchmark for others to use when considering new archive storage facilities,he concludes.

By using Link 51, the Glamorgan Archive benefited from:

  • UK-based in-house manufacturing capability
  • Fully managed market-leading storage solutions
  • Extensive knowledge and experience
  • High-quality product range combining strength, durability and operational reliability

For more information on any of the products specified for Glamorgan Archive please call us on 0800 169 5151.

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