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Keeping Those Keepsake Papers Safe

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nov11homespunweb.jpgBy Patrick T. Reardon

RISMEDIA, Nov. 11, 2008-(MCT)-So, now you’ve got that piece of history-that copy of Wednesday’s newspaper, or that magazine or poster-and you want to preserve it, not only for yourself but for your children’s children. What do you do?

Here’s the advice of Giselle Simon, director of conservation services at the Newberry Library in Chicago.

Keep it in a cool, dry place: “You want to slow down the rate of degradation of the paper. So keep it away from extreme high temperatures and high humidity. Never in a basement and never in an attic.”

Keep it in a dark place: Your grandmother was right to save her end-of-World-War-II newspaper in a dresser drawer. But the wood can speed up the aging of the paper, Simon said. So it’s best to use acid-free archival boxes and folders that can be purchased at art supply stores.

If on display, keep it away from the sun: “If you want to hang something on the wall, get it properly framed with UV (ultraviolet) glass or Plexiglas to cut down on the UV light hitting the surface. And hang it away from a brightly lit room or away from where the sun passes during the day.”

Never put tape or sticky notes on the paper: As the adhesive degrades, it speeds up the aging of the paper, leaving a dark stain, she said.

Plastic bags, even those that lock out the air, aren’t the answer: “Sealing something in plastic can seem like a good idea, but it leaves the newspaper to stew in its own juices.” It’s better, Simon said, to enclose the item in acid-free paper, which slows down the chemical reactions in the collectible item.

Check the Web: Anyone looking for more information, Simon said, can go to the Web site of the American Institute for Conservation of Historic and Artistic Works (aic.stanford.edu). One section, called “Caring for Your Treasures,” has tips on taking care of everything from documents to buildings to works of art. (aic.stanford.edu/library/online/brochures/index).

Ask an expert: If you want to take a more professional approach to your piece of history, the AIC site also has a guide for finding a professional conservator in your area at aic.stanford.edu/public/select.html.

© 2008, Chicago Tribune.
Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Information Services.

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