‘B’ wise: Tips on preserving your photos from the nation’s libraries

It’s not only individuals who are struggling to preserve their photos and other important memorabilia and artifacts — it’s libraries, too.

This week is Preservation Week, observed by libraries across the nation and created to highlight the resources available to help us preserve our personal and shared collections.

If you think you have problems, ponder this statistic from The Campaign for America’s Libraries: More than 4.8 billion (that’s billion with a “b”) artifacts are held in public trust by more than 30,000 archives, historical societies, libraries, museums, scientific research collections and archaeological repositories in the United States.

And you thought your backlog of a couple thousand baby, pet and vacation photos was overwhelming.

Two helpful tips for preservation

Rooting around on website for The Campaign for America’s Libraries, I found these great tips for preserving your photos and other things (click here for the complete list). High on the list: “Store safely in stable conditions” and “make a copy.” Both of these tips speak directly to the “B” in “The ABCs of Photo Organizing”: Box and backup.

  • Box: When it comes to boxes for storing your photos, look for acid-free material or photo-safe plastic containers. Avoid recycled materials, light, air pollution and dust, moisture and high temperatures. The most important factor for storing photos is the environment and climate in which they will be stored; find a cool, dry place in your home, such as an upstairs closet.
  • Backup: And as far as backups, they’re important for both printed and digital images. Suitable backups for printed photos include duplicate photos, negatives and scans of the photos (stored separately from  your originals!). Backup your digital images on thumb drives, external hard drives and cloud storage, but most importantly: Print! A print of a digital image is a backup.

In honor of Preservation Week, the Association for Library Collections & Technical Services is offering a free webinar on “Preserving Your Personal Digital Photographs” by Bill LeFurgy, Digital Initiatives Manager with the Library of Congress. It’s being presented at 1 p.m. Central time Thursday, April 26. Click here for more information and how to register.


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