Collection Services Coordinator Stewart Shannon reveals some of the tricks and secrets that the NFSA Collection Management team use to keep the national audiovisual collection safe.
You have to be very organised and diligent when you have more than two million items of cultural and historical significance under your care. It is a pretty big responsibility!
At the NFSA, that responsibility is in the hands of our Collection Management team: a group of 16 professionals following best practice international standards – set by the Heritage Collections Council – so that every single one of our collection items is stored in optimum conditions to ensure their long-term survival.
When not undertaking retrieval and delivery of collection items for our curators and the rest of the NFSA, the Collection Management team keeps busy by maximising the use of storage space, and improving the actual conditions of the collection. They achieve this by repackaging, conducting visual inspections and relabelling. These activities are often undertaken in conjunction with major relocation tasks, and all this work is referred to as ‘collection care’.
THINKING INSIDE THE BOX
In many cases boxes are custom made because most items are donated to the NFSA without packaging. Due to the various shapes, sizes and weight, off-the-shelf boxes are difficult to purchase from retailers, so the Collection Management team creates boxes tailored especially to the object. In the last 12 months, staff member Murray Kirkland produced more than 40 boxes for rare and fragile collection items. You can see some examples in the gallery below.