Check out this great post by Jill Davis, Founder of Scrapbook.com - Fourteen facts every scrapbooker should know. (I know we are not scrapbooking, but the information she provides is relevant to archiving)
- Make sure digital files are backed up regularly. Of course you'll want to have files available on your computer, but if the hard drive fails, those files will be lost. Saving files to the cloud or online storage is great, but don't rely solely on a third party server. You never know when the company may discontinue services - or heavens forbid are the victim of a hacker or virus. Having files on a computer, backed-up to an online storage site and saved to an external drive or CD that is stored with any physical files is an excellent, all-bases-covered, back-up policy.
- Physical files should be stored in dry, cool places that are out of the sun. Moisture, sunlight and extreme temperatures will destroy memorabilia.
- Most adhesives will damage photos or paper. Avoid using adhesives when possible, however if it is necessary look for "archival safe" or "acid-free" adhesives.
- Store files in sturdy file cabinets or boxes with lids (that are clearly labeled on the outside). Files can be damaged or destroyed if they are crushed or exposed to dirt or moisture.
- Instead of photo albums, consider photo safe boxes made of polypropylene (some plastic boxes exude a vapor that is harmful to photos).
- Always use acid free materials including: polyester sleeves, paper, labels and even pens. Acid free means it has a pH level of 7 or higher. Look for "archival safe" or "acid-free" on the label when purchasing your materials. Other terms you should look for are: acid free, lignin free, or buffered
Susan Luke from Paper Craft Central explains these terms:
- Acid is a substance that dissolves things. It eats them away. Acid is added to paper to make it easier to write on. Unfortunately, this same beneficial acid can eat away at your photos over time. I have seen friend's photo albums where the photo itself has been eaten through and the picture even obliterated over time. In some older albums, the photo itself had protected the paper it was mounted on and not the other way around! If I want a photo to last into another generation, I choose "acid free lignin free buffered" scrapbooking elements.
- Lignin is a substance that occurs naturally in wood. Paper is made out of wood. Lignin makes paper stronger. It is a biodegradable substance though so over time, it breaks down, turns brittle and changes colour to yellow and brown. If you have ever kept a newspaper article for a couple of years, you will know what I mean as it becomes very brittle and yellow. And newspaper is about 98% lignin free! I found some "acid free lignin free buffered" photocopying paper and I make sure I copy my precious newspaper articles onto it if I am going to put them in a scrapbook. I also make sure my other scrapbooking elements are lignin free if I want my project to last through the years without becoming brittle and yellowed.
- When paper is Buffered it means an alkaline substance has been added to it to reduce the effect of the acid content in it. So buffered paper will be safer for your memorabilia. However, some people say alkaline substances can also weaken paper. Certainly there seem to be fewer buffered paper products out there on sale for use in scrapbooks. You can find them, though. (More commonly you just find acid and lignin free products. They are safer than products without these characteristics).