The first phase of the archival project involved identifying and retrieving the records produced by Yorkdale Mall staff from the past 50 years and preserving them according to archival standards. The majority of materials were stored in a storage room below store level. The room was quite dark, overcrowded and slightly damp.
We identified the boxes that should be included in this initiative and had Yorkdale’s Housekeeping staff move the designated records to a holding room situated next to the large processing room that we are using for this project. The purpose of the holding room (see photo to the left) has been to provide the team with a separate and safe space for us to conduct an evaluation of the records in order to determine if any of them have been contaminated by mould, attacked by insects/vermin or possess other problems that require special treatment by a conservator.
During this exercise, we spotted 8 binders containing textual materials from the 1970s that had mould. We subsequently contacted a paper conservator to review the binders and provide us with an assessment and quote. There were also a couple of boxes that had some shredded newspaper shavings on the bottom that were likely generated by mice to serve as a den.
One box appeared to have burn marks on the side. Thankfully the records inside seemed to be safe and intact. Overall, the collection consists of around 60 boxes of analogue and digital records in all media — paper, photographs, slides, VHS & Beta tapes, films, posters, CDs, ephemera etc… — that date from 1964 to 2003 that possess extremely high archival value.
In the end, besides the binders with textual records, only a couple dozen slides and photographs had to be removed due to humidity or water damage. We also had to recycle the newspapers that had been attacked by mice. Despite these discoveries, we were very pleased to find that the vast majority of the records were very good condition and ready to move on to the next stage involving archival processing.