This week is Preservation Week, sponsored by the American Library Association. ALA began Preservation Week in 2010 to help libraries and other institutions learn more about caring for unique items. It’s one thing if a copy of a best seller falls apart; you can likely get a replacement. But if that photograph of a Civil War soldier gets destroyed, it’s not like you can go out and take another photo of him.
Preservation Week spotlights not only things that libraries and archives can do, but also what all of us can do as individuals. ALA estimates that there are 630 million items in various institutions that require immediate attention and care. Imagine how many millions more are in homes (and barns and sheds and… ).
The theme for this year’s Preservation Week is “Pass It On.” How appropriate for us family historians!
Some Basic Tips
With paper, less is more. Less handling. Less light. Less heat. Less humidity. You know Grandma’s keepsake box filled with letters that you have down in the basement? Not a good place for them. Not only is the humidity too high, but think about what happens in basements: flooding. Get them out of the basement and into a closet.
What about those photographs that we treasure? Same principles apply. Instead of hanging an original photograph, consider hanging a copy of it. Keep the original safe somewhere dark.
Here are some resources to help guide you as you preserve your own treasures so you can pass them on:
American Library Association:
- Preserving Your Treasures: Quick Preservation Tips
- Resources for Military Families
- Quick Preservation Tips for Military Families (PDF) (Valuable tips for non-military families, too!)
Library of Congress:
- Preservation FAQs
- Personal Archiving – Preserving Your Digital Memories
- The Signal: Digital Preservation blog
National Archives and Records Administration:
Tomorrow, guest blogger Nancy Kraft will tell us about dealing with a tricky preservation problem: mold. It’s a dirty subject, but one we all need to pay attention to.