While reviewing our program's electronic records in preparation for an intranet upgrade, I've discovered a few pieces of content that didn't have a good home when our public website was updated earlier this year. One of these I am reposting below:
The theme of this [2006's] Oregon Archives Week [was] Archives Among Us. While we are not all archivists, we all have cherished records that we want to preserve and pass on. A few simple steps can make your items last much longer. The following tips will help you protect your valuable records. They are a modification of a more expansive document on the Oregon Archives Week website (http://arcweb.sos.state.or.us/index.html) [ed. - url updated from original post].
- Use acid and/or lignin free containers for storage. Make sure all envelopes, folders, boxes, and photo album pages are labeled “Acid Free.” Even acid free paper may contain lignin, which over time will cause deterioration. A better choice is containers that are both acid free and lignin free.
- Encapsulate photos and precious documents in mylar or polyester envelopes. Make sure the containers do not contain PVC (polyvinyl chloride).
- Make copies by scanning or photocopying. Distribute these copies to friends and relatives. The backup copies will keep the originals from damage and are valuable in the event of a disaster.
- Mount everything on archival quality pages. Light colors are best. Use photo mounting corners. Never glue or tape items on the page. Bugs love to eat glue and tape. Do not use "magnetic" [or static cling] photo albums. The chemicals in the plastic, the glue, and the paper will destroy your precious photos. Also avoid using paper clips and rubber bands.
- Never store newspaper clippings in the same container as other records. Newspaper is highly acidic. A better way is to photocopy the newspaper item onto archival quality paper and store the copy in the container. You also can deacidify newspaper by using Bookkeepers spray. This is costly but well worth the price if you want to preserve original items.
- Remember, technology does change. Audiocassettes, CD’s, DVD’s, videocassettes, and other common records have relatively short lifespans. Be sure to copy your records periodically, especially as technology changes. Do not write on your CD’s with a Sharpie! There are special pens available that will not damage your CD’s over time.
- Store your valuables in an area that is cool, dark, and as free from dust as possible. Keep valuables out of the attic and basement and away from possible fire and water damage. Heat and humidity cause rapid deterioration.