History buffs rejoice: Lambton County Archives doubles capacity

The $200,000 project was supported by the County of Lambton and the federal government

The Lambton County Archives is the place to find rare books and unique local history. (Travis Poland/Lambton Shield)

The Lambton County Archives has room to grow after a major renovation.

The new mobile shelving unit only has one aisle and stores 900 boxes of information. Using the black handles, staff are able to roll the shelves on tracks and select where they want the aisle. (Travis Poland/Lambton Shield)

Six weeks and $200,000 was all the Archives needed to go from overflowing to half-empty. The renovation includes a new mobile shelving unit that reaches ten shelves high — compared to the former eight shelf height — temperature and humidity controls, more over-sized shelves, and a space dedicated to historic maps.

“It’s the perfect temperature for preserving paper,” County Archivist Dana Thorne told shivering visitors on a behind the scenes tour. The room sits around 20-degree-Celsius, but feels cold when outside temperatures are near 30-degrees.

The Archives collection started to grow in 1974 and Thorne said the new space has ensured the collection has room to grow for at least another 40 years.

“Donations range from one picture to a dozen banker boxes,” said Thorne, noting it is hard to predict the growth of the collection.

The Archives closed on May 15 and the entire collection was stored offsite. Now, the books, maps, ledgers, pictures, and journals are back on the shelves.

Thorne said staff numbered every box in the collection to ensure nothing got lost or misplaced in the move.

On Friday (July 21), Thorne led visitors on tours through the part of the archives normally closed to the public.

“History is so important,” said Plympton-Wyoming Mayor Lonny Napper, who toured through the Archives. “It may not seem important to a young person today, but as you get older you’ll find they’ll go back and start looking at the history. So, I think it’s nice it’s being saved.”

“Everyone wants to know what started their community,” Napper added.

Thorne said she expects the Archives to be busy now that it’s reopened because staff have gathered a list of research request during the downtime and the renovation drew attention to the facility and its services.

In May, Thorne told the Lambton Shield the Archives sees 2500 to 2700 visitors and inquiries each year. Many visitors look for information about family history, but the Archives regularly gets questions about specific properties and local history.

“Lambton County Archives receives approximately 100 donations of historical material each year,” said Thorne. “This expansion has provided much needed space for the Archives to grow its collection.”

Funding for the renovation came from the County of Lambton and the Government of Canada’s Cultural Spaces Fund.

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