Preservation Basics by Robin Tait

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Preservation Basics by Robin Tait

  1. 1. Community Heritage Grants 2013 Preservation Basics Community Heritage Grants 2013 Preservation Basics Robin Tait 1
  2. 2. Preservation Basics presented by Robin Tait Preservation Section
  3. 3. Preservation Basics • Incoming Collections • Storage Preparation of paper based collections • Housing and protection • Collection storage areas Community Heritage Grants 2013 Preservation Basics 3
  4. 4. Incoming collections • Separate area to work on collections away from the main collection storage areas. If space does not permit this then have a clean isolated work bench for this collection material alone. • Inspect collection for generally hazardous materials i.e. chemicals, sharps, ignition sources, etc. These items need to be stored in an appropriate area but maintain their links with the collection material by e.g. catalogue links. • Inspect collection for general collection degrading agents such as wet or mouldy material, insects, dust and acidic housing materials. Community Heritage Grants 2013 Preservation Basics 4
  5. 5. Incoming collections • Inspect collection for the following; selfadhesive tape/s, rubber bands, paper clips and staples, post-it notes, acidic or browning and brittle card, paper and tissue. This inspection should give a good indication of the task ahead, including amount of storage required, types of housing, people required to assist and storage materials required. Community Heritage Grants 2013 Preservation Basics 5
  6. 6. Incoming collections Mould Brittle paper Community Heritage Grants 2013 Preservation Basics 6
  7. 7. Incoming collections Insect damage Insect damage and dust Community Heritage Grants 2013 Preservation Basics 7
  8. 8. Incoming collections In summary • Inspection and examination of collections for hazards, agents of deterioration and assessment of requirements/resources for the next step – Storage Preparation. Community Heritage Grants 2013 Preservation Basics 8
  9. 9. Storage Preparation • • • • • The desirable outcome for storage preparation is that clean, stable, pest-free material goes into the storage area. Wear gloves – can be cotton, vinyl or nitrile, both to protect yourself and also the materials you are handling from the acids and oils in your skin. Removal of hazardous substances and materials e.g. matches, knives, blades, chemicals to appropriate documented storage. Removal by appropriate means of inactive mould, dust, insects and other pests. Moulds need to be removed taking care not to spread the spores/hyphae. The best approach is usually brush/ vacuuming using a soft brush to gently move the spores /mould towards an operating vacuum cleaner. The area that this is done in needs to be well ventilated and the operator protected. Dust is removed similarly. People working with affected material need to be issued with personal protective equipment – gloves, face masks, ear protection and protective clothing. After removing the mould the material should be bagged and labelled as having been mould affected. The space where the work is done needs to be fit for the task, e.g. enough space to separate unprocessed and processed material, equipment to operate vacuum cleaners, fans etc. Insectinfested material needs to be double bagged and frozen – the recommended conditions are -20°C for 10 or more days. Community Heritage Grants 2013 Preservation Basics 9
  10. 10. Storage Preparation Mould removal Community Heritage Grants 2013 Preservation Basics 10
  11. 11. Storage Preparation • Removal of self-adhesive tapes if possible. Removal of rubber bands, paper clips, pins and rusting staples, and post-it notes. Removal of acidic papers, tissues and card and replace if possible with acid-free/archival tissues and papers. Community Heritage Grants 2013 Preservation Basics 11
  12. 12. Storage Preparation Self-adhesive tape damage Community Heritage Grants 2013 Preservation Basics 12
  13. 13. Storage Preparation • Photographic materials and albums need to be assessed carefully, as photographs in contact with the wrong materials can cause irreparable damage to valuable images. Magnetic albums with pressure sensitive adhesive lines holding photographs under a sheet of clear pvc are some of the worst offenders. Black paper photo albums also cause problems when the sulphur from the black dye reacts with the silver in the image emulsion. Fading of images is a common result of this form of deterioration. Community Heritage Grants 2013 Preservation Basics 13
  14. 14. Storage Preparation • Photographic materials should be handled while wearing gloves. The oils and acids from skin can permanently mark photographic emulsions and the silver in the image. • The same applies to handling metal objects although it is probably better to wear cotton gloves for this task. Community Heritage Grants 2013 Preservation Basics 14
  15. 15. Storage Preparation In summary • Protect yourselves appropriately before doing any of this work. • Removal of general hazardous materials/ items. • Removal of external agents of deterioration. • Removal of self-adhesive tapes, rubber bands, paper clips, staples and post-it notes. • Removal of acidic tissues, papers and boards. Community Heritage Grants 2013 Preservation Basics 15
  16. 16. Housing and Protection • • 1. 2. 3. 4. Collections need protection to slow the rate of deterioration. Archival quality housing and/or protection materials can assist in slowing the deterioration of an object by a number of ways, By being an inert or buffered material and not adding further acids to the object. Archival papers, tissues and cards used as linings or interleavings. By acting as a barrier to dust, mould spores, skin acids and oils but allowing access e.g. clear polyester sleeves. By absorbing moisture and temperature from the surrounding air in times of high humidity and high temperatures - creating a more stable environment inside for an object/s. Boxes constructed from archival card or polypropylene with paper or card packing work extremely well in this regard. By storage in appropriate cabinets e.g. plan file cabinets with interleaving papers/folders or in polyester sleeves. Retrieval is easier when items are housed in packages with cataloguing labels or accession numbers clearly visible on the outside. Community Heritage Grants 2013 Preservation Basics 16
  17. 17. Housing and Protection • Inert “plastics” – polyester, polyethylene, polypropylene are used to make sleeves, bags and boxes. • Examples – oven bags are a thin polyester and can be used for the storage of paper items however it may be more convenient to purchase Mylar™ sleeves which are manufactured to various sizes to suit collection materials, e.g. Photographs or postcards. • Polyethylene is the plastic used to make ziplock bags, A4 sleeves, freezer bags and food containers. Polyethylene can be used for the storage of paper collections however it is not as transparent as the polyester. • Polypropylene is used to make sleeves for albums and also wallets, covers for ring binders and boxes. The wallets and boxes are generally flat packed and need to be folded up before use. Community Heritage Grants 2013 Preservation Basics 17
  18. 18. Housing and Protection • The plastic to be avoided at all costs is PVC. PVC degrades to a yellow oily viscous material which spreads to anything it is in contact with and is highly acidic. PVC has a characteristic smell – plastic raincoats and beach balls. • When storing collection items in boxes it is a good idea to pack the boxes with a foam to cushion the bottom of the box and pack around the object/s with materials such as papers, tissues or card to buffer the environmental changes. Foams such as cellaire or ethafoam (both polyethylene) are good for cushioning objects in boxes particularly if the contents are fragile e.g. Glass plate negatives. Community Heritage Grants 2013 Preservation Basics 18
  19. 19. Housing and Protection • Acid-free tissues, papers, card and boards. • Acid-free tissues are used to mainly interleave materials and pack around items in boxes. Protect the surfaces of fragile media items such as pastels and charcoal drawings. • Acid-free papers can be used as photocopy papers for preservation copy purposes. Strips of acid-free paper can be used as place markers or for accession tags. Community Heritage Grants 2013 Preservation Basics 19
  20. 20. Housing and Protection • Acid-free cards are used to make wallets, folders and phase boxes. • Acid-free mount board is a thicker board used to mount, store and display works of art on paper, paper documents and photographs. Community Heritage Grants 2013 Preservation Basics 20
  21. 21. Housing and Protection • Boxes can be either of an acid-free corrugated card or made from polypropylene. Boxing documents or objects adds significantly to their long-term survival. We need only look at the condition of boxed items from attics or similar storage compared to unboxed items to know this. A recent controlled fire test run in conjunction with National Archives and the ACT Fire Brigade also demonstrated that boxed items were less extensively damaged than the unboxed items. Community Heritage Grants 2013 Preservation Basics 21
  22. 22. Housing and Protection • Solander boxes are often used to store art on paper and photographic print collections HOWEVER they are expensive. These boxes are robust and constructed using hoop pine plywood, usually covered with black buckram and lined with an acid-free lining paper. The works are mounted with standard size window matts and then placed one on top of the other in the box. The works are then dust-free, insect free, light excluded stable temperature and humidity. Community Heritage Grants 2013 Preservation Basics 22
  23. 23. Housing and Protection • Mounted and framed pictures or photographs are stored by hanging by 2 points on a metal mesh mounted to a wall or depending on size and complexity of the frame moulding stacked with interleaving sheets on padded blocks. • Covering with tyvek sheeting is recommended to stop dust and can also protect from water leaks. Community Heritage Grants 2013 Preservation Basics 23
  24. 24. Housing and Protection Community Heritage Grants 2013 Preservation Basics 24
  25. 25. Housing and Protection Community Heritage Grants 2013 Preservation Basics 25
  26. 26. Housing and Protection In summary • Try where possible to use archivally sound materials to house or protect your collections. • Inert plastics such as polyethylene, polyester and polypropylene. • Avoid the use of pvc at all times. • Acid-free tissues, papers and cards and boards. • Acid-free corrugated board boxes or polypropylene boxes. • Solander boxes constructed of archival materials. • Framed items can either be hung on a wall mesh by 2 points NOT by the hanging wires or stacked with interleaving sheets on padded blocks. Community Heritage Grants 2013 Preservation Basics 26
  27. 27. Collection Storage Areas • The room or building where your collection is stored has a huge bearing on the survival outcomes of collections. • Ideally it is clean with stable or little variation in the temperature and relative humidity. • Sunlight is excluded from the room or does not fall onto collection items. • Regular house-keeping (cleaning) and checks are done – checking for dust, insects, mould, water leaks, rodents, birds and even building soundness i.e. Wall cracks, sagging ceilings. Community Heritage Grants 2013 Preservation Basics 27
  28. 28. Collection Storage Areas • Collections are stored on shelving or in cabinets or plan file cabinets. • Collections are stored away from external walls. • Collection storage shelving can have roller blinds installed at the front of the shelving to stop light falling onto items. The blinds can be rolled up to allow access to the collections. • Good labelling on boxes, cupboards and shelving. Large rolled items or large boxes can benefit from having small photographs of contents with the outside labels. Community Heritage Grants 2013 Preservation Basics 28
  29. 29. Collection Storage Areas Window openings closed off with a light excluding and insulating panel – NLA Pictures collections storage. Note that no collection material is stored next to the external wall. Community Heritage Grants 2013 Preservation Basics 29
  30. 30. Collection Storage Areas In summary • Think of the room or storage area as the outer box of the box within a box storage concept. • Regular housekeeping, cleaning and checking storage areas can alert custodians to potential problems and allows for timely remedial action rather than dealing with a future costly disaster. • House all collection items off the floor – damaging for collection items as well as personnel. • Try to position all shelving, cabinets etc in areas of the most stable temperature and humidity. Avoid storage of collections next to external walls. • Good labelling of storage and containers. Community Heritage Grants 2013 Preservation Basics 30
  31. 31. Conclusion • Good Housekeeping and a clean well organised storage space is one of the best things you can do for your collection. • Good quality enclosures can protect collection materials from fluctuations in temperature and humidity, as well as protect them from dirt, dust, mould, insects and rodents. Community Heritage Grants 2013 Preservation Basics 31
  32. 32. It’s simple but just in case.... If you need some assistance the Community Heritage Grants office can help put you in contact with the person who can answer your question. Mary-Louise Weight 02 62621147 chg@nla.gov.au Community Heritage Grants 2013 Preservation Basics 32

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