Thursday, March 24, 2011

Staples, Paper Clips, and Rubber Bands, Oh My

Throughout my time working in Archives, it has never ceased to amaze me the damage that items such as paper clips, rubber bands, staples, sealing wax and, my personal favorite, the straight pin, can do to paper.  Rips, tears, rust marks, discoloration and other problems occur due to how papers are held together.  This makes preservation difficult and can even mean being unable to read documents or parts of documents, due to the damage caused.

What can you do with your documents instead?

  • Purchase archival supplies from a company such as Gaylord Brothers.  These plastic clips work the same as metal, but will not harm your documents.  Folders are also an easy way to keep documents organized.

  • Put documents in archival safe page protectors, such as those recommended by Dear Myrtle in her organizational checklist.

  • Read Sally J.'s Practical Archivist blog for information on proper archival practices of photographs.


  1. A straight pin! I imagine that either the perpetrator was an accomplished tailor and just going with what (s)he knew, or that someone was seriously desperate to hold some papers together.

    Unfortunately, very few people are aware at the time that their documents might some day be in demand and worthy of preservation. Staples, Scotch tape and paper clips are miraculously useful things at the spur of the moment, and seldom does the act of creating a document include consideration for where it will be in 50 years.

    However, with the current emphasis on saving and storing every bit of data and documentation, that may be changing. In the meantime, I wonder if there is a way to influence the makers of office supplies toward developing more preservation-friendly materials? Or perhaps it will be less of a problem as our reliance on paper wanes..?

  2. @Heather, Thanks for commenting on my blog:-) Straight pins tend to be by housewives in the 1950s or so. It's what they had, I suppose.
    I agree that people do not think their documents are worthy. I also have to say that if I were to die tomorrow, my documents are not in any order. Maybe after grad I can order some pretty boxes from Gaylord and organize the stuff I actually want to keep. That would be a good plan prior to moving, anyway.
    Almost MARAC time and graduation!!!

  3. A motivating discussion is worth comment. I do think that you need to publish more
    on this subject matter, it may not be a taboo matter but generally folks don't discuss such issues.
    To the next! All the best!!


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