Last week the archives added a page on the preservation of cultural artifacts to the campus wiki for students enrolled in Art History here at SPSU. We also got a chance to speak to students on the subject, and lecturing on preservation topics gave us a chance to talk about some of the common challenges archivists face in every collection, like the challenge of preserving documents, artifacts, and books with tape damage. Both pictures on this week's post are samples of the many items in the collection we're currently processing that have sustained tape damage. As the pictures illustrate, even if the tape does manage to fall off over time, the adhesive leaves a permanent stain on the items.
Pressure sensitive tapes cause a lot of damage in libraries and archives, so if you tear a book, photograph, or other item, please don't use tape to fix the problem! Often libraries have trained staff that can repair the items properly, but repair time and materials can be costly, so they usually only work with items in their own collections. Tape damage is very difficult to fix, and often the damage can not be reversed.
When working with your collections at home, the Library of Congress has recommended that you "NEVER hinge pictures with pressure-sensitive tape...including masking tape, "invisible" tape, quick-release tape, cellophane tape, double-stick tape, and the so-called "archival" tapes." Even tapes sold as "archival" can cause permanent damage to family heirlooms. There are a lot of guides to caring for historical collections that are out there to help you preserve your family treasures. Be aware that the way we store and handle the physical reminders of the past affects how long those reminders will last.