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Preservation 101 Basic Tips for the Household Archivist Michelle Light, Acting Head of Special Collections and Archives University of California, Irvine Libraries michelle.light@uci.edu The worst archival evils How to best preserve your... Papers Photographs Traditional Digital

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Preservation 101Basic Tips for the Household Archivist Michelle Light, Acting Head of Special Collections and ArchivesUniversity of California, Irvine Librariesmichelle.light@uci.edu
overview
The worst archival evils

How to best preserve your...

Papers

Photographs

Traditional

Digital

Photograph albums

Books

Home movies

Overview

2

oh the horror
Oh, the horror!

Archival hazards

  • Light
  • Heat
  • Humidity
  • Water
  • Pests
  • Careless handling
  • "Enhancements"

3

paper paper everywhere
Paper, paper, everywhere
  • Acidic paper = bad
    • Acidic paper turns brown and extremely brittle.
    • Acid from low quality paper can bleed onto neighboring pieces of paper.

4

paper paper everywhere5
Paper, paper, everywhere

Store your paper to protect it from six hazards:

  • Keep at a stable humidity. Humidity above 70% promotes mold. Rapid changes damage paper.
  • Keep away from heat. Heat causes paper to decay.
  • Keep away from light. Light causes fading.
  • Handle carefully to prevent tears.
  • Avoid curling or folding. Store flat (horizontally or vertically) in acid-free folders.
  • Beware of acid. Isolate acidic paper. Make preservation photocopies.

5

save your photographs
Store photos and negatives in a dark, cool, dry and ventilated place.

Relative humidity of 20-50%.

Temperature of 65-70ºF.

Save your photographs
  • Protect your photographs.
    • Enclose in safe plastics (Mylar®, Hostaphan® or Melinex; polyester, polypropylene, and polyethylene).
    • Enclose in acid-free, lignin-free, paper envelopes or folders.
    • All supplies should pass the Photographic Activity Test (PAT).

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save your photographs7
Save your photographs
  • Hold photographs & negatives at their edge.
  • Label your photographs
    • Write on enclosures OR
    • Write on the back
      • Use No. 2 pencil for B&W
      • Use felt tip, film marking pens for color.
      • Write on the of the photograph on a flat, hard surface.

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save your photographs8
Save your photographs
  • Display copies on the wall; protect your originals. Light will fade them.
  • If you really want to display them...
    • Use museum-quality mat board.
    • Make sure photographs don't stick to the glass.
    • Use photo corners, edge strips, or paper hinges.
    • Display infrequently.
    • Keep away from bright light, heat, and dampness.
  • Should I digitize?
    • Sure, but don't throw away the originals!

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save your digital photographs
Save your digital photographs
  • Take images at high resolution.
  • Use common image formats (.jpg, .tif)
  • Organize them logically.
  • Back them up often.
  • Understand the consequences of compression whenever you save. (Jpeg files are compressed.)
  • Add captions that can travel long-term with the photographs.
  • Avoid investing in proprietary or uncommon software.

9

create long lasting ink jet prints
Use the best combination of paper and ink.

Pigment-based inks are more stable than dye-based inks but have a smaller color range.

Select archival papers that areacid-free, buffered, lignin-free and optical brightener-free.

Coated ink jet papers work best with compatible inks.

Create long-lasting ink jet prints
  • Control the storage environment.
    • Ink jet photographs are more sensitive than traditional prints.

10

construct archival albums
Construct archival albums
  • All papers, plastics, and

adhesives should pass the

Photographic Activity Test (PAT),

particularly anything that comes

into contact with the photographs.

    • Colored paper rarely passes the PAT.
    • Never laminate.
  • Types of albums
    • Plastic pocket pages
    • Paper pages (with or without plastic covers)
    • Self-stick albums (Avoid at ALL costs.)
  • The album should provide room for expansion.

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construct archival albums12
Construct archival albums
  • When adhering items to paper pages…
    • Do not use household white or yellow glues, hot glue guns, and rubber cement. They can fail, or cause staining or fading.
  • Do not use tape, even tape labeled as “archival” or passing the PAT. They ooze beyond their edges.
  • Use plastic or paper photo corners that have passed the PAT.
  • Use preservation quality adhesives, (e.g., purified starch paste or methyl cellulose) but dry carefully and don’t add too much.

12

preserve older albums
Preserve older albums
  • Older albums on black or colored paper…
    • May not be harming your photographs.
    • Staining and fading could be from poor photo processing, not the paper.
    • Interleave pages with plastic sheets or acid-free paper.
  • Self-stick albums
    • Don’t remove photographs if the adhesive is too tacky.
    • Store and handle albums carefully.

13

care for your books
Care for your books
  • Keep books away from light, humidity, and heat.
  • Dust carefully with a dry, lint-free cloth or a soft-bristled brush.
  • Shelve books vertically; store large volumes flat.
  • Don't pull a book off the shelf with the top of its spine.
  • Leave an inch in front of and behind the book.
  • Don't force a book open too far.
  • Use bookmarks, not folded corners.
  • Avoid post-it notes, inksand highlighters.

14

make those home movies last
Make those home movies last
  • Store in a cool, ventilated, dark, dry place.
  • Keep away from dust, smoke, and oil. Keep videos away from electromagnetic fields.
  • Play on well-maintained equipment.
  • Store videos on their side. Before storing, play through and do not rewind.
  • Store film reels flat. Make sure they are evenly wound.
  • Migrate videos often...or lose them.
    • Videotapes degrade quickly (lifespan = 10-30 years).
    • DVD formats keep changing.
    • Be aware of compression in digital files.

15

need more help
Need more help?
  • More advice
    • California Preservation Programcalpreservation.org/education/ training_tools.html
    • Canadian Conservation Institutewww.preservation.gc.ca
    • Library of Congresswww.loc.gov/preserv/familytreasures
    • National Archiveswww.archives.gov/preservation/ family-archives
    • Northeast Document Conservation Centerwww.nedcc.org
    • Society of California Archivistswww.calarchivists.org/pubs/SCA_PYH.html
    • Wilhelm Imaging Researchwww.wilhelm-research.com
  • Archival suppliers
    • Creative Memorieswww.creative-memories.com
    • Gaylord Bros.www.gaylordmart.com
    • Hollinger Corporationwww.hollingercorp.com
    • Light Impressionswww.lightimpressionsdirect.com
    • Metal Edge, Inc.metaledgeinc.com
    • Get Smart Productswww.pfile.com
    • Talaswww.talasonline.com
    • University Productswww.universityproducts.com
    • Webway Photograph Albumsos.shopwebway.com

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