Archives Bazaar Wrap Up: What’s in the Box? Preservation Tips from Analog to Digital

We’ve all faced it at some point… it’s the mystery box of items needing preservation care! For instance, ever open a box to an assortment of photographs? Scrapbooks? How about textiles, thumb drives or film reels? Often containing the miscellaneous and non-conventional formats, these are the boxes that haunt the backlogs of cultural heritage enthusiasts and professionals alike.

LAPNet recently hosted a presentation at the 12th Annual Archives Bazaar focused on the care of various non-conventional formats – with a mystery box of unique items included! This presentation, held on October 21, 2017 at USC’s Doheny Library, featured a panel of preservation and archives professionals who shared their expertise and outlined best practices for working with different formats.

Hilary Swett (Writers Guild Foundation) first set the stage by describing the reality of theory versus practice that we all face with our collections. Hilary shared her expertise on caring for objects such as paper, textiles, medals and metals, and described techniques for building specialized housing for such materials. Hilary’s slides may be found here.

Dawn Aveline (University of California, Los Angeles) next shared her expertise in audiovisual formats ranging from film to grooved media to magnetic tape. She described care for unique items such as dictabelts and wax cylinders (note: they’re fragile!), how to avoid damage such as sticky shed and vinegar syndrome, and how temperatures can affect film materials. Dawn’s slides may be found here.

Christina Rice (Los Angeles Public Library Photo Collection) next described a wide array of photographic material and shared how it is important to care for both the physical material, as well as the content captured in the images. Christina shared her expertise on care and storage for mounted 35mm slides, postcards (commercially published as well as unique!), and photographic prints. Christina’s slides may be found here.

Mary Wahl (Pasadena City College) next shared her expertise in caring for digital media such as floppy disks, thumb drives and CDs. Though proper care of digital media can prolong their use, it is important to also move content off of these items. Mary shared tips for moving files off of such media and organizing content through various filenaming strategies. Mary’s slides may be found here.

A Q&A followed the presentations and included lively discussion on topics ranging from photographs to cloud storage… even to bugs and pests.

LAPNet thanks the presenters who were willing to share their expertise – as well as share sample objects for our mystery box! Our thanks also to LA as Subject for including us in the Archives Bazaar program (always a great event!), and to all who made it to the session.

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