Why Proper Storage is Important

You can find examples of it in any library, including this one: materials damaged by poor storage situations. Many of the treatments I perform on our materials here are due to storage situations imposed by well-meaning librarians of yesteryear who thought they were doing the right thing.


An example of a serial in a magazine file box without a support spacer from inside our stacks, found after less than five minutes of searching.

Last week I treated 88 copies of “IPMA Personnel News”* for this very condition.


Before Treatment: The issues were slumped in an S-curve from being in a magazine file box that was too large for the amount of issues present.

It may seem trivial, but when paper is out of plane like this, it is inevitable that the folds will be damaged if a patron attempts to open the issues. Paper develops a sort of “muscle memory” and cannot easily be convinced to lay flat again, especially after decades spent in the same position. In cases such as this one, simply placing them under weight for a period of time will not convince them to go back into plane.


During Treatment: Issues were individually placed in the lab’s humidity chamber, and after sufficient time, placed in the press to flatten them.


After Treatment: All issues are back in plane.

In cases where we are still collecting a serial and more are expected to arrive and fill the box, I would create a simple spacer out of archival cardboard to hold the issues upright. Since this serial is no longer being actively collected, I will make a regular, custom box to hold them securely.

This blog post was written by Rebecca Shindel, Conservator, Indiana State Library. For more information, contact the Indiana State Library at 317-232-3675 or “Ask-A-Librarian” at http://www.in.gov/library/ask.htm.

* JK 671 C45 – IPMA Personnel News (1968-1974) – General Collections, Indiana State Library