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Archival Storage and Preservation

Archival Storage

Book Care and Handling

  • The term "archival quality" or “acid-free” are terms used to designate materials or products that are permanent, durable, and/or chemically stable and, therefore, can be safely used for long-term preservation and conservation purposes.
  • When selecting archival supplies for collection storage, buy only from reputable suppliers of archival products. Many commercially available folders, sleeves, and envelopes are acidic. Plastics may be contaminated or have harmful coatings or plasticizers, and adhesives are often acidic and can stain permanently, so plastic storage is not recommended.
  • Handle archival materials as little as possible.
  • The use of cotton gloves will protect archival material from oily fingerprint transfer. Cotton gloves are also recommended during book repair.
  • Do not eat or drink in storage, exhibition, or work areas. Liquids are easily spilled and will also stain archival materials. These stains are often difficult, if not impossible, to remove.
  • Do not use metal paper clips or rubber bands to secure objects together. Individual folders or sleeves offer a better way to organize and combine multi-sheet records.
  • One touch with a pH testing pen will indicate if an item is alkaline or acidic. This will help to determine the next course of action.
  • The effects of light damage are cumulative! Turn off direct sources of light, such as table lamps, when items are left unattended. Use UV light filters on lights and windows. Always protect valuable items from exposure to sunlight, moisture, dust and dirt.
  • Books should not be exposed to sunlight. The damaging effect of UV rays can be minimized with the application of Brodart Book Jacket Covers.

Laminate

Archival Storage

  • Archival storage boxes are storage countainers that are constructed from P.A.T. Certified materials to ensure the integrity of long-term storage. This archival material is crafted into solid, secure boxes that resist dust, dirt, and light infiltration. Rigid, metal-reinforced corners create a secure seam and resist crushing even when stacked. Ideal archival practice suggests replacing all acid free papers, boxes etc every 5 years. Whether for artifacts, documents or photos, archival storage boxes make ideal storage solutions.
  • To read documents, lay them on a flat surface and minimize handling.
  • All documents should be housed in a protective sleeve made of polyester (Mylar), as well as paper envelopes for storage.
  • When retrieving a single item from a folder, first remove the file folder from the box and then remove the item.
  • When placing papers in file folders, there should be no more than ten sheets per folder. Use even few sheets per folder when storing more valuable documents.
  • Interleave documents using acid-free Bond Paper or glassine sheets.
  • Newspaper clippings are very acidic. They should be treated with deacidification spray and stored in their own folders to limit acid migration. Always test a treatment on an inconspicuous area of the material before treating the entire item.
  • Store materials in a relatively cool, dry, dark location. Paper should be kept in an environment with a relative humidity of 35-40%. Items such as leather, textiles etc. should be in 45-55% RH.
  • Interleave large items with buffered paper for support.
  • When choosing an acid-free tissue, consider the type of artifact you are storing. Cotton, flax, linen, and jute should be stored using a buffered tissue to neutralize acids. Wool, silk, and textiles are best stored using unbuffered tissue which has a neutral pH.

Laminate

Archival Photo Storage

  • Storing your collection in appropriate Photo Storage Boxes, envelopes, sleeves, and albums will protect against light, dust, handling, air pollutants, and rapid fluctuations in temperature and humidity.
  • The Photo Activity Test was developed by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) to evaluate materials that come in contact with photographic emulsions. Materials that pass the test help ensure safe long-term storage of negatives, slides, and microfiche.
  • All negatives and prints require protection from finger oils, acids, dust, dirt, pollution, and abrasion. Use of cotton gloves when handling your negatives and prints will protect against damage.
  • Buffered vs. Unbuffered: The ANSI standard for color photo storage is unbuffered envelopes. The ANSI standard for black and white photo storage is buffered envelopes.
  • Photo storage should be made of strong, durable and chemically stable material. Any material that comes in contact with photographs should pass the P.A.T. test. Do not store photographs in commercially available "magnetic" photo albums. Choose acid-free materials and pages.
  • Extend the life of your photo album by using archival material. The ideal photo album would be constructed with 100% archival materials including a protective cover, a hinge that allows the book to comfortably expand, and size that is easy to shelve or store.
  • If you choose to use plastic page protectors, purchase them from a recognized archival products company. Many "PVC-free" plastics that are available through discount stores are not archival.
  • Attach your photographs, postcards, and other items with archival photo corners or choose an acid-free adhesive. This will prevent discoloration of tape and materials.
  • Store slides in a cool, dark, low humidity environment to avoid fungus growth. Avoid long exposure to any light source including daylight, fluorescent lamps, illuminated viewers and light boxes.
  • If a photograph or collection produces a vinegar/acidic smell, remove the photo from the collection and place in an isolated air tight container. This smell is known and Vinegar Disease and spreads quickly to other photographs. Vinegar disease increases the speed of deterioration in photographs and can be potential harmful.
  • Photographs should be kept out of direct sunlight and away from harmful UV rays to avoid fading and yellowing.

NOTE:
Avoid using pen or markers on or around archival materials. Pencil is best suited in most circumstances as it is removable.