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Storing Newspapers in plastic containers

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    • #135403
      David C

      We have a lot of old ledgers and newspapers. My best guess is we have about 50-60 cu feet of ledgers and newspapers. Most newspapers are from the 1960’s and 70’s with some from the 1950’s. Most ledgers are from the 1930’s with a few from as early as 1910.

      Currently, most ledgers are stored on a wooden shelf in an unheated storeroom. Some are in cardboard boxes. Most newspapers are in cardboard or paperboard boxes with no buffer material between the sheets. We do have some newspapers in archival boxes (also with no buffer material).

      We are in the process of putting together a budget for 2017. I suggested we invest in some archival quality boxes for our newspapers and ledgers. One member of my team suggested we store newspapers in plastic containers. I’m curious what the pros and cons of this suggestion might be.

      David Cranston, Curator
      Hadley-Lake Luzerne Historical Society
      52 Main St – PO Box 275
      Lake Luzerne, NY 12846

    • #135404
      Louise Stewart Beck

      Hi David,

      The main characteristic for whichever storage method you choose will be that it is acid-free; buffering properties are a close second. With archival board boxes, the creation of an interior alkaline micro-climate is beneficial for newspapers, which gives them an advantage.

      Polypropylene boxes do qualify as acid-free, and do not contain plasticizers which could migrate out. You still have to be wary of dyes and other additives, so sourcing truly archival-quality may be difficult. I would also be concerned about having too airtight an environment – a little air transfer can be beneficial for artifacts that are inherently unstable.

      Here is a good overview of the cardboard vs. plastic for boxes discussion:

    • #135434
      David C

      Thank you Louise. I have forwarded the information to the rest of my team. I think in the long run I will try and convince my group to refrain from plastic boxes. The plastic boxes they’re thinking of would probably be the ones at a Home Improvement Center. Determining what those boxes are truly made of will probably be a challenge.

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