Storage Policy

The Center of Southwest Studies is one of the primary repositories of this region's historically significant materials. The Center's holdings of special collections date back more than a millennium. These guidelines for the storage of the collections are intended to assist the Center in meeting its dual responsibilities of access and preservation. Every person and institution working with the Center's materials is thereby obliged to follow these guidelines.

Careful handling of items must be exercised at all times. This includes picking up each object with two hands supporting it from the base, never picking up a ceramic object by its spout, handle, or other protrusion, examining objects over flat cushioned surfaces, removing or fastening lids and loose parts prior to moving, and transporting objects in padded boxes and/or carts.

Staff will complete an incident report describing any damage to the materials, as soon as possible after the damage was incurred.

All organic materials are to be stored in closed containers that are acid-free, lignin-free, containing less than .008% reducible sulfur, buffered with an alkaline reserve with a minimum pH of 8.5 (except for blueprints, hand-colored materials, and possibly albumen photographs, all of which may contain components that react adversely to direct contact with alkaline chemicals and thus should be stored in pH-neutral enclosures), and of appropriate size and strength for their contents.

Any plastic used must be inert. Acceptable products include Mylar D, polyester, polyethylene, polypropylene, and triacetate. Vinyl, plasticized (PVC) sheets, and glassine envelopes are unacceptable. No styrofoam is to be used; it has been found to attract insects.

No non-archival paper, sticky notes (such as Post-itÔnotes), non-acrylic adhesives, or paper clips are to be introduced to the contents of collections, as these non-archival items can damage the materials. Materials are to be marked using archival papers and number two pencil. Artifacts may be labeled using black carbon-based pen if necessary and appropriate.

The present arrangement ("original order") of materials is to be maintained within each container and among the various containers wherever feasible. Artifacts will be arranged by accession number whenever possible.

Any documentation as to provenance, arrangement, or description of the contents shall be retained whenever materials are placed into new enclosures. This information, often scribbled on the side of the acidic box in which the materials arrived at the Center, usually is invaluable and must be preserved.

As a rule of thumb, no more than twenty items are to be placed in the primary (first level) container (e.g., folder or bag).

Each container is to be labeled, at the minimum, with the following information:

Center of Southwest Studies, Fort Lewis College (using, in most cases, our preprinted labels bearing these two bits of information); collection name and number (using one of the genre prefix codes; box contents (i.e., record group, sub-group, and series numbers/titles and date span); and, for artifacts where feasible, accession numbers and item descriptions.

Materials are to be stored only in locations approved by the Center's Director, Archives Manager, Curator, or Librarian.

Containers shall be stored on or in storage equipment (i.e., shelves, cabinets, cases) which is chemically stable, free of lignin, fumes, and vapors, mechanically sound, and with adequate surrounding space to permit safe access to the containers (e.g., 36" aisles). Storage equipment should be constructed of steel with a baked enamel finish and no sharp edges or corners which could damage materials. The equipment should impose no stress on collections and should be located in consistently cool and dry areas, away from actual and potential sources of water and food, not below or around wet pipes, not by sources of heat or ventilation (but positioned parallel to the direction of air flow), and not by windows or directly against outside or basement walls. The lowest containers on or in this equipment should be four to six inches off the floor to provide added protection against damage from water collection on the floor. Freestanding units of shelving should be bolted together as well as to the floor, and should be braced horizontally to further avoid the possibility of collapse.

The Center of Southwest Studies wishes to preserve its collections for use in every way consistent with good scholarship, productive research, and established archival considerations.


 Summer Hours - Museum
Monday - Friday: 1 pm - 4 pm or by appointment
Library & Archives: by appointment only 8/12-8/16/19

Map & Directions

Purchase parking passes at kiosks located at Fort Lewis College information signs near entrances to campus.


Center of Southwest Studies
Fort Lewis College
1000 Rim Drive
Durango, CO 81301

Contact Us

Phone Numbers

Main Office: 970-247-7456
Library Reference Desk: 970-382-6982
Special Collections Library: 970-247-7135
Archives: 970-247-7126
College Records: 970-382-6951
Museum: 970-247-7456