Archives to leave basement

Dunedin City Council digital archivist Alison Breese, under overhead stormwater pipes, below the...
Dunedin City Council digital archivist Alison Breese, under overhead stormwater pipes, below the Dunedin Civic Centre. PHOTO: PETER MCINTOSH
Some sensitive public archives will be moved away from overhead sewage and water pipes in the Dunedin Civic Centre basement, after several approaches from the Archives and Records Association.

Dunedin City Council community services general manager Simon Pickford said yesterday he and other council representatives had recently had a positive meeting with Archives and Records Association of New Zealand (Aranz) Otago-Southland branch members.

He acknowledged that Archives New Zealand had issued a directive, in 2014, requiring that archives had to be "located as far as possible from natural and man-made hazards".

Some sensitive archives would be removed from the basement later this year and shifted to a secure area, to protect against possible flooding from the pipes, Mr Pickford said.

"The longer-term concern is how we make their resources accessible to the public, when we're safely stored."

Digitising them to allow wider internet access would be considered, he said.

He had also discussed storage and potential collaborative solutions with other parties, including the Hocken Library and Otago Museum, which also hold archives.

Peter Miller is an Aranz branch committee member and was among those who met Mr Pickford and other DCC representatives late last month.

The branch supported the planned short-term "mitigation work", but the DCC also needed to have "a long-term project plan" to meet overall needs, Mr Miller said.

He appreciated that the DCC had been listening, but he remained "very disappointed" the DCC had not already done a great deal more to safeguard vital archives.

Even if some archives were removed, most would remain at risk in the basement.

Crucial archives had been held in the DCC basement since 1984, but councils elsewhere in the country had been more successful in providing better long-term protection, he said.

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