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The single most important factor in record preservation is providing adequate storage facilities that will supply the following:

  • Protection from extremes of heat, cold, dampness, and dryness.
  • Protection from dust, vermin, chemicals, and atmospheric impurities. Always be on the lookout for evidence of insects or rodents and, if necessary, take the proper measures for extermination. If books or scrapbook pages look nibbled on, a pest problem may exist.
  • Shielding from excessive light, either sunlight or artificial.
  • Climate control, at approximately 70 degrees Fahrenheit and 50 percent relative humidity. Aiming at the ideal is a goal. Stable temperature and humidity levels are the keys to long-term storage.
  • Boxes placed on sturdy shelving made of either steel, with a baked enamel finish, or sealed wood. Raw wood emits gases that are harmful to photographs and papers.
  • Avoidance of metal filing cabinets as a storage mechanism for archival records. Materials stored in filing cabinets tend to slump and are subjected to more physical wear and tear, as well as greater infiltration of air-borne pollutants, than if they were appropriately boxed and shelved.
  • Filing and materials used for the storage of original records, including folders and envelopes, should be of acid-free paper stock.
  • Careful removal of foreign objects, such as rubber bands, paper clips, and staples. When these items rust and deteriorate, they harm papers, books, and photographs. Papers should be clean and unfolded.
  • No use of pressure-sensitive tape on records of enduring value. These tapes (such as Scotch tape) eventually stain papers or photographs.

The archivist should know when a collection is being used and for what purpose. Items being referenced should be used near the archives, not “borrowed.” The archivist is responsible for seeing that a written record of any file or item removed—including the purpose for which it was removed and the name of the person who did so—should be left with the collection.