Preservation

I. Bound Volumes

  1. Minimally bindings that are broken or weak should be tied with white, flat, cotton twill tape to keep the covers and spine pieces from being separated from the textblocks. A volume should be tied so that the bow or knot is positioned across the fore edge (opposite the spine) rather than on the front or back cover, so that the resulting "bump" will not interfere with good shelving practices. The volumes should be tied securely (but not so tightly that distortion results), with the tape flat as it wraps around the volume. The cotton twill tape should be tied so that it can be easily untied (without being cut) and reused. (See Figure 6.)

  2. Boxing is an alternative for damaged volumes that provides greater protection than does tying. Bound materials that are valuable and/or in poor condition should be scheduled for boxing and/or repair. A variety of phased and drop-spine boxes can be constructed or purchased, the type of box depending on the value and condition of the bound materials. Supervisors should be consulted regarding the need for laboratory treatment or boxing of bound records.

    Figure 6

    Hands measuring cotton tape to bind a document.

    Hands securing cotton tape around a document.

    Tie weak or damaged volumes with white cotton twill tape as an interim preservation measure. Roughly measure the twill tape by eye so that it is approximately twice the length, width, and thickness of the volume. Wrap the twill tape around the length of the volume, cross it over on itself on the front or back cover, wrap it around the width of the volume, and then tie it across the fore edge. Tie the twill tape securely, but not so tightly that the volume is distorted or crimped at the edges. Make sure that the twill tape lies flat on all binding surfaces.



  3. Ideally, large, heavy volumes should be shelved horizontally rather than vertically, as this method of storage provides greater protection and support for textblocks and binding structures. When possible, shelves should be adjusted so that oversize bound materials are stacked no more than three or four volumes high, depending on their thickness, to expedite safe retrieval and reshelving and to avoid the possibility of stacked volumes toppling. Oversize volumes in poor condition and those having high intrinsic value should be given priority for flat shelving.

  4. Non-record, loose, acidic inserts such as place markers or cross-reference forms are often left in bound volumes for many years, with the result that text pages can become stained and damaged. When encountered, such inserts should be evaluated to determine whether they are still pertinent. If they contain important archival information, either they should be reproduced onto archival bond paper or the information they contain should be hand-copied onto stable paper or card stock. Staff should consult with supervisors before removing, copying, or discarding any inserts or enclosures.

  5. When bound records are dusted, textblocks should be held tightly closed to avoid damaging page edges or working dirt into the interior of the volumes.

  6. Return to Table of Contents

Preservation >

The U.S. National Archives and Records Administration
1-86-NARA-NARA or 1-866-272-6272

.