Restoring important documents can be very expensive and time-consuming. Documents are undeniably very valuable in a person’s life. They can contain material information regarding a person’s status, activities, transactions and dealings. They are costly to replace because they may undergo several processes before becoming public records. Some documents have high sentimental value because they have been with the family for a long time. Others, like photographs, can no longer be replaced once damaged or lost.
The importance of properly storing books, photographs and documents cannot be overemphasized. Many important activities rely on these objects and their loss will greatly affect the lives of people. You can choose to avoid the high costs of document restoration by knowing the proper way to store and house your priceless records.
The following are the factors that must be taken into consideration in the effective storing of documents:
1. The right environmental circumstances
You have to pick a storeroom that possesses the perfect environment for storing objects made of paper. Important factors to take note of in this case are light, temperature and humidity.
The place where the documents are to be stored should not be too bright. Excessive lighting can be very damaging to materials made of paper. Ultraviolet rays, which may come from direct sunlight and fluorescent lighting, cause the paper to speedily deteriorate and weaken. It also advances the reaction of chemicals which are responsible for the gradual corrosion of paper. Thus, lights should be turned off if there is no one inside the room.
If the storeroom naturally receives a lot of sunlight because of its location and the documents cannot be transferred anywhere else, heavy curtains and window blinds may be put in the room to prevent the entry of sunlight.
The temperature must always be kept under 72 degrees Farenheit. A warmer room temperature is sure to hasten the chemical activity in the paper which damages the document. There should also be a relative humidity ranging from 40 and 55 percent. It is crucial to keep humidity levels low. When there is too much moisture in the air, there is a big likelihood that molds will appear in the documents. Mold spores are found in the air and will land on surfaces that are moist and suitable for their reproduction.
The environment in the storeroom must be continually kept stable. Otherwise, the repeated changes in the humidity and temperature of the room will promote the expansion and contraction of the fibrous material of the documents. This will then lead to their destruction. The areas in the house known to have very unstable environments are attics, laundry rooms, basements and garages. Homeowners should do their best not to store any important files and records in these areas.
2. Storage gears and furnishings
Documents can be stored in various types of furniture and containers. Choosing the perfect kind of storage gear is crucial in ensuring that the documents are safe from any possible causes of damage and deterioration. The type of storage gear that is most suitable will depend on the type of document to be stores since each kind of document has a specific need.
Shelves that house books and files must be kept as widely open as possible. It will be helpful if the air is allowed to freely circulate so that the surroundings are kept dry. It is the moisture in the air that speeds up the deterioration of books. Cramped cabinets have also been found to hasten the spread of corrosive acidic gases.
We often see big maps, architectural blueprints and other large documents rolled and kept in cylindrical containers. This is not the best way to store these kinds of documents because the rolling and folding will create crevices which will damage the documents in the long run. Instead, these documents should be kept flat and stored in big envelope-type containers. This is essential if you want to increase the lifespan of such records.
The furniture you will use to store valuable records should be made with stable materials. Metal shelves are the most advisable since they are more chemically suitable for storing. Wooden drawers are not very wise because they may have acids which can leak into the documents and damage them. The wood you should most avoid is oak wood. It is the most acidic wood used in making furniture.
If the use of wood in making storage furniture cannot be avoided, you should seal the furniture with water-based polyurethane to lessen the possibility of its negative effects materializing. Do not use the furniture right away if this substance is applied. Allow the odor to disappear before using the furniture. If the smell of the chemical is still present, it only means that the furniture is still not ready to be used for storing and may be harmful to your collection.
Where you place the furniture in the house is just as important as what the furniture is made of. Avoid constructing shelves on exterior walls because these walls are prone to abrupt changes in their humidity and temperature levels. Doing so will increase the chances of molds growing and reproducing in your documents because of the changes in moisture levels.
Never put your storage furnishing below steam and water pipes. Obviously, these areas have very high moisture levels. You can be sure that when you place documents in these places, they will deteriorate very fast.
When you put up shelves against a wall, make sure you leave a significant amount of space so that the air can freely circulate. Always remember that cramped shelves are bad for your books and files because they increase the humidity levels in the areas. Documents need good ventilation if they are going to last for a longer period.
3. Preparing your documents for storage
You have to make sure that your documents are in the perfect shape for storing. If you are going to store your documents for a long time, they have to be properly prepared to lessen the chances of deterioration and damage.
First, you have to carefully handle your documents. This is an easy job to do especially if you know how to put a premium on your documents. Before holding your documents, make sure your hands are clean and are free from oil or moisture. Any kind of liquid substance can do permanent damage to your files.
Photographs should be held on the sides. There are some photo materials that are prone to fingerprint stains. Keep your pictures away from liquid as they may be permanently damaged if they come in contact with certain fluids. Some document experts recommend the use of white cotton gloves in handling pictures. This is probably the safest way to deal with them.
Refrain from activities such as smoking, eating and drinking when you are near your documents. Cigarette smoke can be absorbed by paper and will be damaging in the long run. If you eat near files and book and you leave bread crumbs behind, you will be drawing bugs and pests to your collection. Avoid these activities which have great potential to attract destructive factors to your documents.
Fastening is never a wise option in document storage. It can stain and damage documents once the fasteners become rusty. Rubber bands are equally harsh and caustic. They deform the paper and make it fragile. Remove these items when you find them attached to your papers and books.
If you need to organize your files, use folders instead. You can still keep your documents sorted out and systemized without using these harmful fastening gadgets.
Some collectors insert a lot of unnecessary items in their books such as dried flowers, hair locks and clippings from old newspapers. If you need to keep these items for sentimental reasons, you should store them in a separate container. These things may be very acidic and therefore will have highly damaging effects on your books and files.
Do not use tape when preparing your documents for safekeeping. The adhesives from regular tapes can leak into the paper and saturate them. This will cause destructive stains that may erase important writings on your files.
Files must always be kept flat and not folded or rolled. Otherwise, they will weaken over time. You need to put documents in folders or envelopes wherein they will be completely flattened before storing them in your filing cabinets.
You can also take advantage of the different types of document enclosure available in the market to effectively prepare your files for storage.
Choose enclosures that are made from sturdy material. The most common types of enclosures are boxes, envelopes, folders and sleeves. It will be wise if you purchase enclosure from dealers who are experienced when it comes to the storage of important documents. This will ensure you that your documents are in good hands and will not be deteriorating in the future. If the enclosures are made of paper, make sure that the fibrous components of such paper are non-acidic. Otherwise, the enclosure will deteriorate just the same and the damage will eventually spread into your documents.
Proper and effective storing of documents is just a matter of making knowledgeable choices. Once you know the right methods to keep your valuable records, you will be able to avoid damaging your files and the high costs of document restoration.