Recommendations for Shelving for Inactive Records Storage
by Nancy Graham Moreland
Archives Technical Information Series # 65
The most efficient means of housing records for inactive storage is in standard cubic-foot boxes that protect records from light and dust, but not all shelving is appropriate for storing boxes of records. Wooden shelving is not always strong enough to carry the weight of paper, tends to hold moisture, and provides extra material to feed a fire in your storage area. Through the natural process of decomposition, wooden and particle board shelving emit gases that will degrade paper. All wooden shelving will also retain moisture and will not withstand the weight of storage boxes over time.
Even some steel shelving may be less than ideal for records storage. The standard metal shelving frequently carried by business supply houses is 18" wide X 24" deep, 24" wide X 36" deep, or 24" wide X 48" deep and will not efficiently hold cubic-foot records storage boxes. A shelf 36" wide, for example, will hold 2½ boxes, but few organizations have half-size boxes to fit into the extra space. Some vendors sell shelving with channels to hold each records center carton. Each channel consists of a small steel ledge on either side, designed so that a box can rest between and upon two of these ledges. Unfortunately, boxes are frequently damaged by this type of shelving, or they fall and become wedged between the two jutting ledges.
The State Archives recommends choosing steel shelving with an appropriate weight capacity to handle your organization's records. The following recommendations will help you choose the best records storage shelving for your local government or organization.