The publication of 'An Archival Account of Scotland' in 2000 highlighted the need for greater knowledge about the state of preservation and conservation of archival material in Scotland:
"If archives are to be consulted by more and more people they must be preserved and conserved properly. Yet only about one quarter of archive services have even managed to carry out a professional survey and the conservation backlog is on the increase. Much more finance is needed to ascertain the true scale of the problem, to increase treatment capacity through the creation of more public sector posts for professional conservators, and to promote better preservation practices (including the development of surrogate programmes).”
In April 2009, the Scottish Council on Archives (SCA) took a significant step towards establishing the overview of preservation provision and need cited by the Account by funding 11 Preservation Assessment Surveys for use by archives in Scotland over 2009-12.
The survey allows an institution to quickly gather information on the state of preservation of its archive collection. The use of the survey method for this project througout 2009-2012 has contributed to establishing an overview of the state of preservation and need in archives in Scotland.
The project combines the skills of the three partners:
- The Scottish Council on Archives has provided much needed financial support to enable archives with limited funds to benefit from an assessment of their collections.
- The National Records of Scotland (NRS) provides leadership in collection care by ‘loaning’ trained conservators to help institutions apply the Preservation Assessment Survey to their collections.
- The Preservation Advisory Centre is supporting the survey process both through training and one to one advice and through the analysis of the data from local institutions to build a national perspective on archives.