Arizona State Archives use science, skill to preserve state history

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The Arizona State Archives places books in freezers to preserve them. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5) The Arizona State Archives places books in freezers to preserve them. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)
Bugs burrowed in old books are frozen in their tracks in the 40-below-zero blast freezer. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5) Bugs burrowed in old books are frozen in their tracks in the 40-below-zero blast freezer. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)
“We freeze it and then refreeze it just to make sure everything is dead." (Source: 3TV/CBS 5) “We freeze it and then refreeze it just to make sure everything is dead." (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)
PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) -

Most of us would never put a book in a freezer, but it happens all the time in one state building.

Behind the scenes of the Arizona State Archives, walking the long and industrial corridors, you almost feel like a spy movie was filmed here.

[SPECIAL SECTION: CBS 5 This Morning]

There are specialized rooms, cameras everywhere and security badges needed to get through every door.

“We have about 40 thousand in our photo collection, give or take a few,” said Ted Hale, the deputy director.

He said they catalog maps, books, governor's speeches, photographs and even historic murder weapons downtown at the archives building on Madison and 19th avenues.

Technician Ben Hardison spots mold with a black light on a set of old recorder books that came in from Apache County.

He and archivist Carlos Lopez then quarantine the documents like they were zombies so they do not infect or damage other materials that come here from around the state.

[RELATED: Grant aids Arizona project to digitize historic newspapers]

Bugs burrowed in old books are frozen in their tracks in the 40-below-zero blast freezer.

“We freeze it and then refreeze it just to make sure everything is dead,” Lopez said.

Restoration techs piece damaged maps together, painting the picture of old towns with rich histories, like Tombstone.

Once a document is deemed safe, it is stored in the stacks at 55 degrees, the ideal temperature to preserve paper.

And there is a lot of it paper in this building, too. About one million linear feet, which is enough paper to stretch all the way from Phoenix to Flagstaff.

If you want to view all the cool things the state archive has to offer, you can visit them in person at 1901 Madison Avenue in Phoenix.

There are also tons of historic pictures on their website, azlibrary.gov.

Click/tap here to download the free azfamily mobile app.

Copyright 2018 KPHO/KTVK (KPHO Broadcasting Corporation). All rights reserved.


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Ian SchwartzAn Arizona native, born and raised in Mesa, and graduate of Arizona State University, Ian Schwartz is thrilled to be back in the Valley of the Sun.

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Ian Schwartz
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After starting his journalism career in Illinois, Ian worked in Albuquerque and later Sacramento. In the field as a reporter, he has covered flash floods, blizzards, tornadoes, wildfires, drought and just about everything the weather can offer. After spending some time reporting, Ian decided to further his education and completed Mississippi State's broadcast meteorology program. Ian loves everything about Arizona weather from winter storms in the north to the monsoon in the south. When Ian isn't giving you the forecast in the morning, you can find him hiking, traveling and exploring everything our great state has to offer. If you have any weather pictures or want to say hi, drop him an email or connect online.

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