Scottish Catholic Archives at Columba House to close as of Monday 8 April:
Columba House, an early 19th-century townhouse in Edinburgh, which has been home to the Scottish Catholic Archives for over 50 years, is to close to researchers and members of the public from Monday 8 April 2013 until further notice.
The archive collections are the responsibility of the Trustees of the Scottish Catholic Heritage Collections Museum (commonly called the Blairs Museum), who have taken the decision after receiving reports from specialists in archive conservation and historic buildings.
The immediate cause of the closure has been the discovery of mould on items in the collection, which require urgent conservation treatment. This is the result of dampness in Columba House¹s main storage area in the sub-basement. Reports spanning a period of more than thirty years indicate that this has been a recurrent problem.
Fortunately, an Agreement is already in place between the Trustees and the University of Aberdeen in terms of which the University agreed to house the archives on long-term loan. They will be accommodated in the University¹s 21st-century Special Collections Centre in the iconic Sir Duncan Rice Library. It is clear that the transfer from Edinburgh to Aberdeen is now not only desirable but also essential, to protect and preserve the historic archives for posterity, and to make them again available for research as soon as possible.
Archbishop Mario Conti, Chairman of the Trustees, said: “We have emphasised for some time that Columba House was not fit for purpose. The latest reports confirm this. The question of the arrangements to be made for the papers covering the period from 1878 until the present will now have to be considered more urgently than had been expected. The condition of Columba House means that a new location for these modern records will have to be found.” Once the historic archives have been treated by a team of specialist conservators and the transfer has taken place, the Trustees and the University of Aberdeen will publicise details of their availability for study by scholars and members of the public.