Old ways working well for National Archive
National Archives’ efforts to protect documents of historical and cultural significance using convention methods of preservation seem to have worked effectively.
Documents that are in need of protection and maintenance at National Archives are preserved by sticking the documents to Nepali Lokta sheets with the help of wheat starch. Conservationists and chemists say that these elements are non-acidic and don’t wither easily. Alkaline nature of these traditional substances elongates papers’ life and sticking process can be easily reversed.
The papers stuck to Lokta sheet afterward are preserved by maintaining humidity and temperature in a closed room with regular fumigation. Chemists involved in the process say that the simple and traditional method is a feasible and effective way of preservation.
The number of paper documents kept at NA has increased after the 2015 earthquakes that destroyed government offices, temples and other heritage monuments.
A renowned chemist Grihaman Singh Shrestha, who served for more than 35 years at National Archives, said Lokta sheets also had high folding endurance and tearing endurance than normal papers. “After packing documents in preservation cardboard boxes, we cover the boxes with red-coloured clothes that help to keep insects away,” Shrestha said.
While developed countries use advance technologies at archive centres to protect documents, National Archives is using traditional document preservation method.
Chief of the Department of Archaeology Saubhagya Pradhananga said, “Despite limited budget and lack of proper space for preservation, I think we are doing very well.”
National Archives has more than 200,000 documents preserved, some of which are more than 1,000 years old. The religious scripture of Hinduism and Buddhism can be found here which according to officials are from the 10th century.
The government has directed National Archives to protect the documents older than 25 years. This has given more responsibility to National Archives. It has a separate department for Rana-era official documents retrieved from Muluki Bandobasti Adda and Kausitosh Khana.