Document Protection: Archivists Concerned: Saving Energy Leads to Problems

Sensitive historical documents can, for example, be at risk of developing mold if they are not air-conditioned properly.

Document Protection: Archivists Concerned: Saving Energy Leads to Problems

Sensitive historical documents can, for example, be at risk of developing mold if they are not air-conditioned properly. Mold can develop, for example, when cooling is no longer adequate because archives or museums have to save energy. The President of the Federal Archives therefore warns of the negative consequences of the exploding energy prices as a result of the Ukraine war. "I'm very worried about whether we can bear the costs," said Michael Hollmann of the German Press Agency.

The work of the Federal Archives with its headquarters in Koblenz and another 22 locations in Germany must be ensured, because it is a special and long-term cultural institution. Energy has long been saved wherever possible. "We are responsible for an important piece of cultural heritage that we must preserve and pass on. That must not be endangered," warned the head of the authorities, Hollmann. He expects the support of politicians "so that we can compensate for rising costs, the archive material remains protected in the best possible way and we don't have to close the doors for users in the end".

The Plan of the Archives

The Federal Archives are also referred to as the nation's memory. His spokesman Elmar Kramer says about the necessary heating, ventilation and air conditioning: "Paper files, for example, have to be stored at around 18 degrees Celsius and photographic materials at around 12 degrees Celsius, otherwise the material will decompose." Savings in the house could, for example, be reduced to 19 degrees in offices and "energy holidays" between Christmas and New Year.

According to its own information, the state archive administration of Rhineland-Palatinate, for example, is checking the same closure phase in its reading rooms. Heating, lighting and hot water supply would be optimized in their seven rented buildings. "Contingency plans are also being drawn up in the event that there are bottlenecks in the electricity and heat supply," it said in Koblenz.

The Association of German Archivists based in Fulda also called on the federal, state and local governments to ensure heating, ventilation and air conditioning in storage rooms. "No democracy without archives! Archives play a central role in the development of a democratic knowledge society by preserving irreplaceable and authentic documents," emphasized the head of the association, Ralf Jacob. When technical systems in archives are switched off, irreparable damage to documents cannot be ruled out.

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