Public Record Office Victoria was successful in obtaining funding for a purpose built building for the states records in 1997/98. The building was funded as a joint venture with the National Gallery of Victoria as an Arts storage facility.
The building was constructed using the latest methods of air filtration, thermal mass wall panels and security systems. The building is approximately 25000 m2 in size with three major storage areas on level 1 and level 2 and the public reading room on level 3. Approximate cost $38 million. The building was completed in 2000.
The principle design is around using the internal thermal mass of the building to maintain stable temperature conditions within the storage areas and as such the office and ancillary areas are built on the perimeter and the storage rooms in the middle of the building. This allows for servicing of the plant without the need of contractors or other workers entering the storage rooms on a regular basis.
The major component of the building is the environment control to ensure the storage rooms are maintained under strict air temperature and humidity control. Our system has a set point of 20 degrees +/_ 1% and humidity control of 50% RH +/_ 5%. The filtration system comprises a combination of F5 filters, F9 Filters, HEPA filters, Chemical Filters and cosatron filters (electrostatic filters).
Each air handling plant (AHU) would house approximately 8 filters from the F5 through to the Hepa filters with the outside pre-treatment plants having 16 chemical filters with the other AHU having between 4 to 8 chemical filters. Our environmental controls are monitored 24 hours a day through various sensors and monitors located within the repository.
Should the environmental controls be compromised for any period of time, the design of the building ensures the temperature and relative humidity remains within the accepted standards. This has been demonstrated on a number of occasions when critical environmental controls have been offline through maintenance or breakdown.
The repository is located over two floors and covers approximately 12,000m2. Access to the repository is through air lock doors which assists in maintaining environmental controls and assists in the overall integrated pest management system.
The design allows for maximum usage of the space and ease of access to all storage mediums within the repository.
A cool room is also available for the storage of those mediums that require reduced levels of temperature and humidity such as film etc.
Access to the repository is controlled through a swipe card system and only provided to those members of staff who require constant access to undertake their daily activities. E.g. record retrieval & collection management staff
As at March 2010 PROV repositories houses over 91 linear kilometres of records
The major areas of the building is the record storage areas which are fitted out with a variation of 400mm deep compactus, 600mm deep compactus and plan file mobile compactus.
The plan file mobile compactus were re-designed by us to enable extra storage shelving to be available above the plan file cabinets with the top back panel removed and this allows us install standard boxes from both sides giving greater use of the space available.
The shelving has the configuration of 7 bays wide with 7 shelves per bay. This configuration was selected taking into account the latest OH&S issues regarding the use of ladders and trolleys and other mechanical aids when retrieving records.
All of the compactus are manually operated thus reducing the risk of fire or breakdown associated with power operated units.
Record Containers (Archive Boxes)
The majority of containers being used within the repository to house records are constructed using acid free board. This board meets the national standard for archival storage as approved by the National Archives of Australia (NAA).
All new records being accepted into our custody must be housed within these types of containers.
Conservation and Preservation
Conservation services to PROV are provided through Centre for Cultural Materials Conservation (CCMC) which is a department of the University of Melbourne.
They have on site laboratories and work areas, which enables them to support PROV and deliver services to other cultural institutions.
PROV staff has been trained to identify potential risks and undertake basic conservation activities that support our overall conservation and preservation strategy.
Disaster Recovery Room
Large area where PROV can store damaged records after a water leak or other disaster. The room temperature and humidity can be altered to required
levels for drying or de-humidification without the use of standalone units.
Central Vacuum System
This system is not only used for general cleaning but in the event of a disaster / water leak can be used to remove water without the need of any other appliance. It also eliminates the need to use back pack type vacuum cleaners in the storage areas and the associated problems of long leads and discharging of fine particle dust from the back pack.
All records are bar coded and the location of the record is able to be tracked and identified at any point through Public Record Office Victoria's archival systems.
Occupational Health and Safety within the Repository
This is a major concern for Public Record Office Victoria management and staff. We have provided staff with a range of manual handling equipment that reduces the risk not only to themselves but also to the records.
These items of equipment include trolleys, hydraulic table lifters, ladders with hydraulic lifters, spring loaded ladders.
These items combined with regular manual handling and records handling training assist in ensuring a safe work environment for all and protection of the records.