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6 - Equipment and Supplies


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  • ​The Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals (CILIP) publishes a Buyers' Guide

Equipment and consumables

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  • ​A Romer Protractor greatly increases the ease and accuracy of ascertaining grid references. Get one to lend to your readers, but make sure they don't walk off with it!

  • A Map Scale Ruler is suitable for use with 1:10 000, 1:10560, 1:25 000, 1:50 000, and 1:63 360. It is worth investing in a scale rule for accurate work. Most rulers will vary by a few millimetres according to room temperature

  • Archival Polyester (also known as Melinex or Mylar) sleeves are useful for the storage of delicate map material, but also offer excellent protection for maps that are fed through large format photocopiers and scanners. The polyester is a very transparent material and seems to have a negligible effect on copy quality. Many of the archival products suppliers listed below will be able to provide sheets or ready made 'envelopes' of archival polyester

  • Small repairs to maps can be affected with document repair tape or Filmoplast P (both of which are burnished on) though such products are not appropriate in all circumstances. Professional conservators should, of course, be consulted for when working to archival standards or with important items. See also our section on conservation.

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Archival and conservation products

  • Conservation by Design (CXD) - conservation and storage products. (Bedfordshire)

  • Conservation Resources (UK) Ltd - General archival and storage. (Oxfordshire)

  • Preservation Equipment Ltd (PEL) - General archival and storage. (Norfolk)

  • Atlantis European Ltd - Storage boxes, paper and acid free card. (London). Acid free paper and linen tapes, gummed and reversible ("lick & stick") also neutral ph pressure-sensitive framing tape and clear doc. repair tape

  • Secol Ltd - Polyester sleeves and pockets. (Norfolk)

  • G Ryder and Co Ltd - Storage and solander boxes. (Buckinghamshire)

  • Willard Conservation Ltd - Design and manufacture tools and equipment for conservators. (West Sussex). 'Offer conservators a truly bespoke service with affordable tools that are proven to last a lifetime. Willard Conservation products continue to be the preferred choice by conservators within some of the World’s leading galleries, museums & conservation studios'.


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​The following article may be of interest: Physical considerations of the storage of printed cartographic materials in libraries, or, my life in a map case by April Carlucci in The Cartographic Journal volume 42, number 3, 2005, pp 245-254

Plan chests

Plan chests come in two types: horizontal, and vertical. Horizontal systems (drawer units) are easy to use until the drawers get full. Vertical chests have the disadvantage that the maps must be punched with holes or have hanging strip attached to them but they might be easier on the back of the person using them. See April Carlucci's article (see above) more information.

Large acid-free paper map folders (in which several maps can be placed to make retrieval easier and to protect the maps) can be purchased, for example, from Conservation by Design (CXD). Beware that you may need to buy a large quantity, so try teaming up with a neighbouring library to share the cost!

The drawers of horizontal plan chests can suffer from a number of problems over time. Most manufacturers will service their products for a fee. If you decide to service your drawers yourself remember to use grease rather than oil to lubricate the drawer's bearings. White Lithium grease, a non-petroleum-based corrosion- and oxidation-resistant lubricant has been recommended on MAPS-L for metal-to-metal bearings by John W Barry of Intelligence Data Systems, Inc.

Folded Map Storage:
There are a variety of pieces of furniture that are suitable. The humble filing cabinet is widely used though note that high-sided drawers are much better than open-sided.

Hanging strip/suspension tape for Vertical plan chests:
The Plan chest supplier will probably also supply hanging strip, also known as suspension tape, however this can be more expensive than using a more general office supplier. The following supply hanging strip / suspension tape:

These pages were compiled by: April Carlucci (British Library Map Library); Tinho da Cruz (Department of Geography, University of Liverpool); Anne Taylor (Cambridge University Library). They are maintained by the Map Curators' Group of the BCS. Colleagues are requested to help keep this information current by e-mailing suggestions for inclusion, and details of links that don't work.

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