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​Introduction

LMA is the official repository for records of the London metropolitan area and of the City of London Corporation itself. Most archives are located at the LMA in Clerkenwell. Some specific archives are held at Guildhall in the City of London.

LMA is open to the public on four weekdays and one Saturday per month. The building is closed and un-staffed at night. Out of hours the building alarms are monitored by an alarm receiving centre. There is also an out of hours keyholding service which responds to any alarm activation.

A high degree of security is essential to protect the collections of prints, photographs, books and archives. At the same time our aim is to allow public access to archives in the Archive Study Area (ASA) whenever possible. The site must also be secure from fire, flood and vandalism.

Security of archives from theft, mutilation, addition or distortion

​The archives are stored in locked strong-rooms, to which only authorised members of staff have access. This is enabled by a computerised access control system. Members of the public are only allowed in the ASA and Information Area which, along with the external parts of the building, are covered by CCTV cameras.

Closed circuit television (CCTV)

The CCTV system consists of 25 cameras including three Pan Tilt and Zoom cameras in the Information area and ASA. Digitally recorded images can be retained for one month. The person responsible for the data is the Town Clerk of the City of London Corporation.

The cameras are monitored from the front reception desk. Suspicious behaviour or persons are reported to the Information area or ASA desks.

Document ordering

The public order online to access original archives, by entering the document’s unique reference number. The reader will also enter their History Card number to identify who has requested the document. Service Assistants produce the documents every 20 minutes and, if necessary, check the location of the documents against the location database. The database is password protected and can only be accessed by authorised personnel. The required documents are then brought to the ASA within 20 minutes where the reader can see them upon producing their History Card.

History Cards are valid for three years and are free. Full details on the registration process, acceptable documents for registration and terms and conditions can be found on our website or on application to staff. History Cards can be renewed with proof of identity and address.

Archive study area (ASA)

Entry to the ASA is gained via a push button which releases the door. Once the reader has shown their History Card, the reader can then collect their ordered documents from the desk one item at a time. To exit the ASA a member of staff will press an exit button housed on the collection desk. Staff will also be able to open the doors by using their access pass.

Security Measures in the ASA include the following:

  • Proof of identity via the History Card is required before any original archives are issued to the public.
  • Continuous invigilation of the ASA.
  • Restriction on the number of items issued to readers, especially loose items issued individually.
  • Allocation of desks closest to the collection point for bundles of documents or uncatalogued collection items.
  • Use of Conservation Studio or Carpenter Room to view iconic and fragile items under staff supervision.
  • Where the documents cannot be viewed safely or are deemed to be at high risk they will not be issued.

Incidents

Should a reader be seen to handle archives inappropriately they will be advised by a member of the invigilating staff of the correct method of handling archives. In the case of deliberate vandalism, a duty manager or a senior member staff will take the reader away from the ASA to discuss the matter. The manager should also be accompanied by another member of staff should a witness be needed later. It will then be decided whether or not to call the police. The reader’s History Card may also be confiscated. In the event of a theft or serious breach of security, or abusive behaviour towards the staff or other readers, the person concerned will not be allowed admission to LMA in future.

If an incident is seen by Technical Services staff on CCTV they will contact the Information Area or ASA. Clear channels of communication and protocols have been established for what to do in the event of an incident.

Additional security measures

Additional security measures include the following:

  • Signing-in books for all members of the public and contractors. Also staff working late and on weekends.
  • A condition of entry is that the public must abide by the terms and conditions of the building which include the Internet Security Policy. A copy is available from the front desk.
  • Visitors are given a clear plastic bag in which to place their papers when in the Information area and ASA.
  • Lockers for all coats and bags.
  • Potential random bag searches on leaving the building.
  • The issue of access passes allowing restricted access as appropriate to contractors and staff.
  • Visitors are collected from reception and are the responsibility of the person they are meeting and are accompanied at all times if visiting non-public areas of the building.
  • Alarms monitoring the removal of barcoded reference books and microfilm from the public rooms.
  • The car park and loading bay is kept locked throughout the day. Admission to the car park is via ground floor reception who will ensure the gates are closed and locked.

Building security

​Fire and flood

LMA has an integrated smoke detector and sprinkler system which, if activated, automatically notifies a central monitoring company. This company alerts the fire brigade and the key-holders. There are also flood detectors linked to local security alarms.

There are fire extinguishers at strategic points throughout the buildings. These are tested yearly.

Intruders

An intruder alarm is set at night which, if activated, automatically alerts the central monitoring company. This company calls the police and the key-holders. The intruder alarm can be activated by any of the alarmed doors or Passive Infra-Red (PIR) movement detectors throughout the building.

Vandalism

LMA is locked at night and there is a three metre high security fence with locked gates covering the car park area. There are also external lights around the site which are programmed to come on at night. In addition, the car park and loading bay are kept locked throughout the day. Only staff members have keys to the car park gates.

Maintenance

All systems are regularly maintained and tested by the City of London’s central maintenance contractor and also checked by the Technical Services team.  Scheduled maintenance is also carried out by the fire and intruder alarm companies.

Training

​Members of staff dealing with the public are trained in customer care and how to deal with physical and verbal abuse. All staff are given training on basic fire prevention and evacuation procedures during their induction.

Staff in the ASA are trained in document handling and advise the public on the correct way to view documents. Staff also monitor the readers to ensure that correct handling techniques are observed. Document handling sessions are run for visitors by Conservation staff.

Police updates

​There are quarterly meetings between the National Museums Security Group on behalf of the Art and Antiques Unit of the Metropolitan Police. These keep us informed of current trends and criminal activity within art galleries, museums and archives in the London area. We receive regular security updates by email.

We also receive updates from the City of London Police on terrorist information and activity affecting the city.

Transporting documents

​When transporting archive documents in one of the LMA vans, two people must be in the van to accompany them. This is to ensure that the documents always have someone with them, in the event of a breakdown or when someone needs to leave the van.

When documents are loaned to third parties they are checked and packaged up by Conservation staff before delivery/collection takes place. The item is then removed from the location database. When the items are returned they are checked again for any damage and reinstated into the database.

Coroners files are requested by the Coroners Courts and are sent either by recorded delivery or the coroner will arrange for their collection. They are then removed from the location database until their return.

Feedback

​Please complete a comment form or email us at LMA Enquiries if you wish to give feedback on this policy.

This policy will be reviewed at least every two years to make sure it remains timely and relevant.


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