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Preservation Week

April 2016 Online Exhibition


The Origins of Preservation Week

In 2005 the first comprehensive national survey of the condition and preservation needs of the nation’s collections reported that U.S. institutions hold more than 4.8 billion items. Libraries alone hold 3 billion items (63 percent of the whole). A treasure trove of uncounted additional items is held by individuals, families, and communities. These collections include books, manuscripts, photographs, prints and drawings, and objects such as maps, textiles, paintings, sculptures, decorative arts, and furniture, to give just a sample. They include moving images and sound recordings that capture performing arts, oral history, and other records of our creativity and history. Digital collections are growing fast, and their formats quickly become obsolescent, if not obsolete.


For more information please visit the ALA Preservation Week Website.



Why Digital Preservation is Important to Everyone


Environmental Factors


Ultraviolet rays from natural and artificial sources can cause fading and disintegration.


Dust is abrasive and can accelerate harmful chemical reactions.


High temperatures can accelerate deterioration.


High humidity promotes mold growth, corrosion, and degradation, while excessive dryness can cause drying and cracking. Fluctuations between extremes can cause warping, buckling, and flaking.

Key Items That Should Be Preserved

architectural drawings


audio and video recordings


genealogical information





photo albums and photographs

printed materials

professional and business papers



  1. Store magnetic media (cassettes or reel to reel) or discs (CDs and LPs) vertically in a cool dry place.
  2. Make sure playback equipment is clean and in good working order.
  3. Label containers with the event, location, people, and date.
  4. Reel-to-reel tapes should be stored tails out (wound backwards on the reel) to minimize the effects of sound bleed-through.
  5. Remove copy protection tabs to avoid accidentally overwriting.
  1. Store books in an environment where you are comfortable and away from direct sunlight.
  2. Use polyester covers to protect dust jackets or to keep deteriorating leather from staining other books. Fragile or damaged books can be stored in boxes.
  3. Handle books with clean, dry hands.
  4. Dust the tops of the books regularly to minimize pests and mold.
  5. Seal wooden shelves with water-based polyurethane or latex paint.
  1. Back up multiple copies of your data on multiple types of media, and store in multiple locations.
  2. Name and organize your files and add to the file’s metadata.
  3. Migrate and refresh files when you get new software packages or a new operating system.
  4. Save files in stable, non-proprietary formats such as .pdf, .jpg, or .tif.
  5. Select and save only those files (email, photos, etc.) that are particularly important to you.
Film & Home Movies
  1. Store home movies in a cool, dry place.
  2. Keep films in their canisters or boxes to keep out dust and light.
  3. Label boxes and films with the event, location, people, and date.
  4. Store home movies with sound tails out (wound backwards on the reel) to minimize the effects of sound bleed-through.
  5. Participate in Home Movie Day to be able to watch and share your home movies with family and your community.
Paper & Documents
  1. Store papers in an environment where you are comfortable being. Basements can be damp and lead to mold.
  2. Organize papers into acid-free folders and boxes for easy access and to protect from light and damage.
  3. Handle papers with clean, dry hands.
  4. Protect artwork and documents from direct sunlight when displaying.
  5. Don’t force rolled or folded items open if they resist.  Call a conservator.
  1. Handle photographs at the edges with clean, dry hands.
  2. Store photographs in albums that have acid-free pages or polyester, polypropylene, or polyethylene sleeves.
  3. Mount photographs with photo corners, not glue or tape.
  4. Store photographs in an environment where you are comfortable. Basements can be damp and lead to mold.
  5. Protect from direct sunlight when displaying.


  1. Store scrapbooks in an environment where you are comfortable and away from direct sunlight.
  2. Store older, fragile scrapbooks in protective boxes flat, not upright, on a shelf.
  3. Handle scrapbooks with clean, dry hands and turn pages with one hand underneath to protect heavy scraps.
  4. New scrapbooks should have acid-free support pages.
  5. Use photo corners to mount items in a scrapbook, not tape or rubber cement.
  1. Store slides in a cool, dry place.
  2. Keep slides in their carousels or boxes to keep out dust and light.
  3. Label the containers with the event, location, people, and date.
  4. Use polyester, polyethylene, or polypropylene sleeves to store loose slides, not PVC.
  5. Clean the film side, not the emulsion side, with a cotton swab dipped in a water/ethanol mixture if slides are dirty. Clean the emulsion side with a gentle puff of air or lightly with a very soft brush.
  1. Store textiles in an environment where you are comfortable being. Basements can be damp and lead to mold.
  2. Box or roll and cover textiles to prevent damage from dust and light.  Inspect regularly for insects.
  3. Do not fold if you don’t have to. If you have to, pad the folds with tissue.
  4. Display dyed textiles away from direct light to minimize fading.
  5. Hang historic clothing on well-padded hangers and cover with plain cotton.


Disasters, such as floods, earthquakes or fires can destroy entire collections and wind up costing institutions millions in repairs. The Conservation Center for Art & Historical Artifacts has compiled PDF guides to assist in protecting your items from disasters and, in the event a disaster does occur, established step-by-step solutions to recover your preserved works.

Salvaging Paper-based works/documents

Salvaging Photographs

Salvaging Books

If any other assistance with disaster recovery for collections is needed please refer to the ALA Disaster Recovery site that provides links, 24 hour hotlines and other resources.




The ALA and other organizations provide extensive resources for preserving family historical documents in addition to larger collections.

Free Webinars provided by the ALA

The Library of Congress Guide to Protecting Family Treasures

Smithsonian Museum Conservation Institute

Comprehensive List of Conservation Organizations


Salt Lake Community College

Taylorsville Redwood Campus

4600 South Redwood Road

Salt Lake City, UT 84123

Markosian Library


SLCC Libraries

Educational Initiatives & IR