pres week 2012

Pass it On! Preservation Week is April 22nd-28th

This week is preservation week.  In honor of this, I adapted a list to create the ‘top ten’ tips to care for your treasures.  There are some basic things anyone (individuals as well as institutions) can do to extend the life of their collections. The NEDCC (Northeast Document Conservation Center) has created some wonderful online resources with information about how to care for these treasures.  Visit their website for a more complete list of how to care for family and private collections.


1.The best protection is a cool, dry, stable environment, e.g., moderate temperature and relative humidity with relatively little fluctuation, clean air and good air circulation, no natural or fluorescent light and good housekeeping.

2.Don’t store your valuable paper collections in attics or basements, which are commonly subject to excessive heat/and/or moisture problems. Also avoid areas beneath or close to water sources like washing machines, bathrooms, or air-conditioning equipment. Be sure to consider what is in the room above your collections.

3.Heat causes damage. Don’t hang valuable photos, documents, or artworks over radiators, heating ducts, heat-producing appliances, or fireplaces. Books and boxed documents or photographs with long-term value should also be shelved away from heat sources.

4.Light causes fading and other damage. Keep photos and art (prints, watercolors, and other works on paper) in the dark as much as possible. Don’t put valuable books and papers in direct sun or bright light of any kind.

5.Indoor pollution rapidly damages paper and is a growing problem in energy-conscious spaces with good insulation. Any valuable photo or artwork on display should be protected by a preservation-quality mat and frame. The glass or plastic covering of the frame protects the item from pollutants and dirt.

6.Storage enclosures must be durable, provide physical support, and protect against chemical deterioration.  Different types of media will require different enclosures, but generally you want acid-free paper or preservation-grade plastic. Boxes, mats, folders, and other paper enclosures for preservation use at home should be low-lignin or lignin-free, and buffered throughout.  Plastics should pass the Photographic Activity Test (PAT). This test ensures that the enclosure will not react chemically with photographs.

7. Letters, clippings, and other documents should be stored unfolded, because folding and unfolding breaks paper along the fold lines. Storing documents in folders rather than envelopes is recommended, because envelopes can cause damage as items are removed and replaced.

8. Color photographic prints at home from an inkjet printer are not considered preservation quality.  These will fade over time.

9. Use “photo” or mounting corners, not “magnetic” pages (which actually contain adhesive that can stick to or react with your pictures) when storing photos in an album.

10. Make multiple backups of all digital photographs and other valuable media. Videotape, magnetic disks (hard drives and floppy disks), CDs, and DVDs all have a limited life expectancy and are subject to both gradual deterioration and catastrophic failure.

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