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The main duty of 10th department is care of the physical condition of records deposited in the NA. Besides conservation and restoration of archival documents, the department also deals with research in connection with the problems of preservation of archival documents. The internal structure of the department is adjusted to it and is divided into the sections. The section of research is responsible for tackling scientific research problems.
Verifying conservation methods and materials, which have been used, is one of the basic targets of the section, with respect to the undesirable degradation influences on the treated material, further on to suggest and recommend methods, which would be applicable without a considerable risk.
Another task deals with studying and comprehension of degradation reactions of the basic materials: paper, leather, waxes, parchment and recording media, and at the same time creating a relevant system of measures to moderate degradation of the material. Therefore the section takes part in the activities concerning preventive care of material, measuring and analysing climatic parametres in the repositories and making suggestions for the following necessary measures. The question of hygiene in the repository rooms is also closely connected, especially the risk of possible microbiological contamination of the records. Among other duties the section also checks and analyses biological attack on the material, tries to find and verify suitable disinfectants, should they be effective enough and at the same time without undesired effects on the treated material. A specialized laboratory in the NA building in Milady Horákové Street in Prague — Dejvice, focuses its attention on studying conservation and restoration of the seals, leather and especially parchment. It was established in 1987 in connection with the vast project of re-conservation of the fond of theArchives of the Crown of Bohemia, after the research assignment to save damaged deeds and charters had been successfully completed.
The researched tasks always respond to the needs resulting from the concrete situation in the care of archival fonds, for example the “Investigations in iron-gall ink“, “Study in colouring of parchment cused by making writing more visible“, etc. The core of research and developmental tasks lies in testing and verifying preservation methods including disinfectants and restoration materials and their introduction into practice.
Basic research from the field of natural science is being done about the colour layer and the fibre composition of paper. The researches help with the arrangement of restoration proposal with the aim to get as much information as possible about the studied object, and then optimize technological procedure. A significant part of the research work at present is devoted to microbiological investigation. It concerns not only individual records, but also all archival fonds and even the repository rooms.
The survey of the physical condition of archival documents and records is conducted to find out the range and kind of damage, and thus serve as a preparatory stage for the proposal on the restorer´s or conservator´s treatment.
The activities connected with the preventive care of records are not substitutable especially checks of state and climatic conditions in the repository rooms, proposals for security deposits, protective covers, finding suitable climatic conditions for a concrete kind of record, making plans for solving critical situations, and the like.
Exhibitions constitute a significant threat of damaging archival documents, therefore the research section also deals with the difficulties of exhibiting records, checks on climatic and lighting conditions in the showrooms, supervises sufficient adjusment of exhibits, etc. Safe exhibiting is formulated in “Principles of Records Exhibitions in the NA“.
The department serves as a research and at the same time methodical workplace with nationwide competences which gives consultations on different topics concerning technological problems to conservators and restorers from other archives and institutions, as well as organizes professional study visits and training for them.