Skip to main content

Paper: Best Practices for Conservation

Tennessee Supreme Court record

Example of correctly handling paper. Note that the record is being held by its edge.

The best conservation techniques for preserving paper are preventative in nature. The Tennessee State Library and Archives, Preservation Services: Conversation division advocates a stable environment. Under "Preserving Family Collections," the State Archives stresses that "The best protection for your books, papers, photographs, and prints is a "safe" environment: moderate temperature and relative humidity; clean air and good air circulation; no natural or fluorescent light; and good housekeeping."[1]

In addition to maintaining a proper climate, appropriate handling of paper can increase its longevity. In Preserving Archives & Manuscripts Mary Lynn Ritzenthaler includes a list of paper handling tips. Among them are suggestions like:

1. Look before handling records

2. Hold records lightly but securely

3. Use two hands to handle moderately oversized materials

4. Wear gloves [2] 

[1] "Preserving Family Collections," Tennessee State Library and Archives (accessed February 3, 2012).

[2] Mary Lynn Ritzenthaler, Preserving Archives & Manuscripts (Chicago: Society of American Archivists, 2010), 153-154