Choosing Tools and Materials

Choosing Materials & Tools


Poor quality storage materials can hasten the deterioration of collections. Paper and board should be free of acidic compounds and unpurified wood pulp and have less than 1% lignin, which may cause staining, fading and degradation.


When choosing adhesives or tape, consider reversibility as well as characteristics such as flexibility and pH. In general, adhesives that come in contact with items of permanent value should be reversible without damaging the object. Adhesives used on storage materials, such as boxes and folders, should be permanent but not become yellow or embrittle over time. Self-adhesive labels should be chosen for permanence and affixed to storage materials, not to valuable items.


Record label information with permanent, pigment-based ink or toner. If you must mark on a photo or document, choose a soft pencil and write on the back.


When selecting tools the least invasive or aggressive should be your first choice. The same applies to fasteners. If possible, avoid using anything that will cause holes or abrasion. Remove old paper clips and staples that can rust and, if necessary, replace with non-rusting ones. And eliminate rubber bands completely—they contain damaging sulfur and can dry up and leave a gummy mess.


Materials such as film, acrylics, glass, plastics (such as polyester film), optics and electronics contain an electrostatic charge that will attract dust and other environmental contaminants to their surface. These contaminants can cause scratching and abrasions on the surface if not handled properly. Antistatic and static dissipative gloves, brushes and cloths will enable safe handling and cleaning of the surfaces.

Related Topics:
Buffered vs. Unbuffered Storage Materials
Understanding Plastics for Preservation