Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Ghosts, ghouls, and tape!

Halloween is right around the corner, but we see scary preservation issues year-round at the conservation laboratory at the Tennessee State Library and Archives (TSLA).

Foremost among these is tape. Did you know that any kind of tape used on your family collections is potentially a hazard? Some tapes are advertised as being archival, which is true in that the adhesive doesn’t chemically react to the paper. However, tape is meant to be permanent, and anybody in the preservation field will recommend you never to do anything permanent to your collection.

Conservator Carol Roberts uses a specialized heating tool to remove the plastic layer of the tape. In this image you can also see an example of a pressurized tape which has oxidized the paper fibers. Even if the tape is removed, the staining is permanent. Tape removal should only be performed by a trained paper conservator as the process is incredibly complicated and can be quite hazardous without the proper protective wear and equipment.

One of the responsibilities of our team of conservators is the removal of tape within TSLA’s collections. Our conservators are available to answer any questions regarding your paper-based collections at 615-253-6460. You can also find out more about caring for your family collections at http://www.tn.gov/tsla/preservation/PreservingFamilyColl.htm.

So please, be careful this Halloween, and beware the tape.

The State Library and Archives is a division of the Tennessee Department of State and Tre Hargett, Secretary of State.

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