Preservation Advice

One of the roles of the State Records Office is to supply advice to both State and Local Government agencies in matters relating to the maintenance, preservation and conservation of State records. The objective is to ensure that State records, and more importantly State archives, are stored and maintained under conditions that will promote their longevity.

preservation adviceMaterial within the State Records Office collection is managed according to an inhouse Preservation Policy, which provides a set of general guidelines for the management of State archives. An ongoing conservation program, provided through the expertise of the State Library of WA's Preservation Services Branch, ensures timely and appropriate treatment of all material within the collection.

Preservation considerations should be extended not only to State archives, but to any State record that is to be maintained for an extended period of time. Thus, it is the responsibility of agencies to make certain that temporary records are also adequately stored so as to ensure that they will remain viable, functional records for the duration of their allotted retention period.

The State Records Office can provide advice on a range of preservation issues such as choosing archival formats, copying programs and appropriate storage facilities and materials, by drawing on the expertise of State Records Office preservation staff and the State Library of WA's Preservation Services Branch. For more information on the State Records Office's preservation activities contact the SRO on (08) 9427 3600 or via email at

Storage of State Archives

Not all State archives, however, are held within the State Records Office collection. Some are in the custody of their creating agencies, where they are in active or semi-active use prior to their transfer to the SRO, while others are in approved repositories.

Section 32 of the State Records Act 2000 provides for the transfer of State archives to the State Archives Collection.  The State Archivist and Executive Director State Records must give State organizations written notice if unable to accept the transfer of archives to the State Archives Collection and directions regarding the keeping of those archives until transfer can take place.  The Directions for Keeping State Archives awaiting transfer to the State Archives Collection will assist State organizations to make the best arrangements possible, within their resources, for the safe storage of State archives.

The Directions provide clarity on best practice so as to minimise harm to State archives until such time as they can be transferred to a central archival repository.

The State Records Office appreciates that State organizations are not archival institutions and cannot be expected to provide the same level of expert care, conditions and access to archives as the State’s archive.  Nevertheless, these records represent the State’s civic and community memory, and have been identified as being worthy of retention.

The State Records Commission Standard 8 - Managing Digital Information provides directions for the safe keeping of State archives in digital form.

For agencies that have requested, or seek to request, retention of State archives beyond twenty five years via Recordkeeping Plan processes, State Records Commission Standard 7 - State Archives retained by Government Organizations provides minimum compliance criteria.


Microfilming remains one of the most accurate, reliable and enduring forms of records reproduction available. As such microfilming is a viable alternative to paper as a long term storage medium for temporary value records, and in some cases can also be considered as an alternative to the original format for archival value records.

The State Records Office provides guidelines on the standards required for the microfilming of both temporary and permanent value records, and can also advise on the implications of the Evidence Act with regard to microfilming. In some instances the State Records Office may also be able to assist by providing access to an archival standard microfilming service for records designated as State archives.

Further information on the microfilming of temporary and permanent value records can be found on our Microfilming Information page.

Paper Selection

A major factor in determining the prospective longevity of State records is the quality of the paper used in the creation of the records. It is necessary to ensure that the quality of the paper used will be adequate to meet the expected lifespan of a record and that where archival value records are concerned, archival or permanent quality paper is used wherever possible.

The State Records Office can advise on the best quality paper for records management systems as well as provide information on where to purchase archival or permanent value paper.

For more information can be found on our Paper Selection Guidelines page.

Background Information

A wide range of resources covering various aspects of preservation and conservation are available through the Internet. The following websites are recommended for those seeking background information on preservation topics:

Conservation OnLine (CoOL)

Cornell University Library: Department of Preservation & Conservation

Library of Congress: Preservation

These sites provide a selection of guides and information sheets on a wide range of preservation issues relevant to the care and maintenance of documentary collections.

Disaster Recovery Advice

From time to time, when storms and other water based disaster events occur, the SRO is approached by agencies and clients for advice on how to deal with damp and damaged records. While the SRO cannot provide detailed advice or assistance, some simple advice can be found in this handout, which includes links to websites for further information on disaster recovery.


Last updated 22 June 2016