BS 4971:2017 has arrived! This wholly revised standard is now called 'Conservation & Care of Archive & Library Collections'.
Previously BS4971 covered technical details of conservation treatments. Over the decades since its first iteration in 1978 it has become gradually more focused on preventive measures. Since the emergence of a new standard for all heritage collection buildings, EN 16893, which will replace BS 5454 but for all collection types instead of only archival materials, those aspects specifically relating to archives now appear in BS 4971:2017 instead. This means environmental recommendations on humidity and temperature, protecting from mould and pests etc and packaging. Its structure is entirely new, breaking down into Conservation policy and planning, preventive measures and remedial measures. The latter is now about the criteria that should be used for deciding whether or not carry out 'repairs' to damaged archives and books etc., and which can be used to define and measure whether work being carried out is of appropriate quality.
The European standard EN 16893 for archive, library and museum buildings is expected to be published later in 2017. At that time PD5454:2012 will be withdrawn. For the Archives and Libraries sector, it will be necessary to use both BS 4971 and EN 16893, but it is hoped that 4971 will be used as a tool for managing collections, while 16893 will be for planning new repositories and assessing the quality of existing structures.
All relevant EN standards will always be made available free to NCS members in our Member Area under a multi-user license funded by sponsorship. BS 4971 will still only be available from BSI or a library with access to UK national standards. But watch out for the NCS Guide to Conservation Standards for Archives, expected to be available soon.