As a genealogist and an archivist, I have seen scrapbooks of every shape and size and full of everything from newspaper clippings to very random ephemera. If you have seen a scrapbook that is more than a decade or so old, you have probably also seen the problems that occur due to the acidity, overfilling and folding of large items.
Today I attended a workshop on preservation of scrapbooks presented by David Stokoe, conservation librarian at Syracuse University's Special Collections Research Center, and CLRC.
David discussed the multitude of items he has found in scrapbooks during his career as a librarian. Everything from moss to ballet shoes, along with the usual paper items. He said there is no such thing as a silver bullet in preservation, but there are many things that can help.
First of all, it is recommended you put the scrapbook into an archival safe box (purchased from an authorized archival supplier or made with archival-safe materials in a way shown here.). This will keep the item in a safe horizontal position and also keep it all in one place. What you do beyond that will depend on the value of the scrapbook, as well as how and how often it is used.
Genealogists who have scrapbooks made by their ancestors will consider these of high value. However, these scrapbooks are probably not in high use compared to one at a research center. David's overall recommendation was reformatting. In the past this has included photocopying, microfilming or taking photographs of the scrapbook. Today, it tends to mean digitizing. Recently, genealogists have become fans of the Flip-Pal mobile scanner. High on my list of items to buy, the Flip-Pal allows users to "stitch" together scans taken of an item into one image. You can also use a regular scanner or digital camera to make a digital copy.
Another reformatting option is to take the items out of the scrapbook and put them into mylar (or other archival-type) sleeves. You can then put these sleeves into a 3-ring binder and people can look through the scrapbook this way. I highly recommend this idea if you have magnetic photo albums, as the plastic cover and adhesive are horrible for your photographs.
This was a fascinating workshop and I learned a lot! I now have a long list of scrapbooks, both at work and at home, that I am going to work on preserving. Let me know if you have any tips!
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