How Did We Move a Warehouse Full of Records?

shelving_2OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAHow Did We Move a Warehouse Full of Records?

One of the primary functions of the Government Records Section, Division of Archives and History (State Archives of North Carolina) is to provide state agencies with storage facilities for their inactive records.  We operate three storage facilities to accomplish this goal.  Due the term of the lease ending with one of our storage facilities (BSA), the staff of the Division of Archives and Records has engaged in a massive storage facility relocation project that took place from May 2014 to March 2015.

This project started almost a year ago in April 2014 when we began to work with the State Property Office to seek new leased space.  Once the bid process was completed and the proper contracts were signed we obtained a new leased space in September 2014.

The staff of the State Archives worked in three phases to transition the records from the former storage facility (BSA) to the new warehouse (Front Street). Phase 1: Preparation and Planning; Phase 2: Removal of Records and Disassembly and Reassembly of Shelves; and Phase 3:  Re-shelving of Records.

Phase 1: Preparation and Planning

During the preparation stage we worked to minimize the cost of moving the records from one facility to the new warehouse.  From May – October 2014 we:

  • Destroyed 18,229.55 cu. ft. of materials scheduled for destruction.
  • Moved 8,776 cu. ft. of records from the BSA to one of our other two storage facilities.
  • Hired a structural engineer to design a shelving plan for the new warehouse facility.
  • Prepared the Scope of Work and received bids from contractors to 1) remove the records from the warehouse; 2) Store the records in a temporary location; 3) Move the shelving from the first warehouse and rebuild the shelves in the new facility; and 4) Return the records to the shelves in the new facility. The contractor was secured in early November 2014.
  • Developed workflow for records relocation. We also developed documentation to track the movement of the boxes from the shelf to the pallet, the pallet storage in the temporary location, and placement of the boxes in their new location at the new facility. Detailed documentation of individual series of records (including which pallet they were stored) was important to capture, since the clear chain of custody for the records needed to be identifiable through all stages of the process.

Phase 2: Removal of Records and Disassembly and Reassembly of Shelves

  • November – December 2014 contract workers and Division staff worked to palletize and remove records from the storage facility. Record pulls were completed in 15 days.
  • Late December 2014 – February 2015 contract workers disassembled and reassembled the shelving at the new storage facility.
  • Hired lighting engineer to design a supplemental lighting plan for the storage facility.

Phase 3: Re-shelving of Records and Lighting

  • March 2015 contract workers and Division staff re-shelved records in the new warehouse. The final boxes were placed on the shelves on March 16th, meaning that work was completed in 10 ½ days.
  • Lighting contractor is scheduled to install additional lighting.

Now that the hard part is done we will focus our attention on ensuring that all box locations in our box tracking database have been updated to reflect their new location.  This should take a minimal amount of time since we did a majority of the data entry in real time as the boxes were being placed on the shelves.

The State Records Center has resumed normal operations.  We are now servicing records requests for records stored in all three of our facilities, destroying records that have met retention requirements, and picking up records from agencies for storage at the State Records Center.  After almost 11 months it is nice to get back to routine operations.

Final Results:

We moved 37,116 cu. ft. of records on 696 pallets from the BSA to the Front Street facility.  We had a handful of boxes that were damaged in transport, but for the most part the boxes arrived in their new home in good condition.

In total we touched approximately 64,122 cu. ft. of records during this project.  As a result of all the planning and preparation work done in the first phase of the move, as well as the relocation and destruction of records stored at the BSA, the overall cost of the project was reduced. This project was a major undertaking requiring the commitment of all State Archives staff to complete.  All members of the Archives staff worked tireless to transition the records to the new storage facility.  The result is a fully operational storage facility.