Thursday, April 14, 2011

Closets and Other Storage Options

According to Rebecca Smyrl, Conservator at the Conservation Center for Art and Historic Artifacts, I could have done far worse than storing our family collection newspapers in our home office closet.  The newspapers in question are 25-year-old Wayfarers, a Bucks County tourist newspaper that I published (with much help from my father) from 1985 to 1988.  I still have around 200 of these newspapers and they have great sentimental value.

As opposed to garages and basements, a closet on the second floor of the house isn’t really that bad of a storage environment.  Safely ensconced in the closet, the newspapers receive very little light exposure and additionally benefit from being in the main part of the house where temperatures are relatively stable and humidity under control.  Therefore, thanks to my enlightened strategy of benign neglect, the newspapers have remained in
                                                                          fairly good condition.

Inevitably the newspapers will deteriorate over time.  Their highly acidic paper will eventually result in their becoming very brittle, flaking at the touch.  Affordable preservation strategies can considerably slow this process but cannot reverse the basic chemistry.

For long-term storage, Rebecca recommends interleaving the pages of each newspaper with acid-free paper and then storing the newspapers flat in acid-free folders and boxes.  University Products, a respected vendor of archival supplies, offers “buffered acid-free interleaving tissue paper,” which should be perfect for the job.  For my one-stop shopping needs, University Products also offers newspaper storage folders and black newspaper boxes.

To reduce long-term wear caused by handling of the newspapers, Rebecca suggests digitizing at least some of them.  Digitization would create a record of the newspaper content in another medium, offering one more level of preservation and accessibility in the hopes that there will be Wayfarers for future generations to enjoy in the
22nd century and beyond.

© 2011 Lee Price

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