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How to preserve your community or family archive

Advice on how to protect and look after your physical archive

 

Collections Care 10: caring for large and "outsize" items

 

Wondering how to protect larger items? Want to know the best option for something that won’t fit in a box or drawer?

Here we will look at "outsize" items – in other words, items too big to fit into "off the peg" enclosures. You could choose to keep them flat, or roll them, but it’s important to avoid folding them or altering them in any way (don’t be tempted to chop edges off!).

Just to re-cap, you’ll know from our earlier pages on protective enclosures that:
• there is no "one size fits all" solution
• you need to use archival quality materials (Collections Care 5)
• there are key rules and other factors to consider (Collections Care 8)

 

Now let’s look at some case studies which show a range of solutions which we have used.

Here is a large plan, too big for our largest box. We have made a four-flap folder for it and included a support board made from archival corrugated board which is rigid and light. The plan can now be handled safely and viewed easily. It can be stored safely in a plan chest or on a shelf.

 

For larger maps or plans that can be stored rolled, you can get long individual boxes as shown here. Some are telescopic so can be extended to the right size, although we would recommend securing them at the chosen length so they don’t get pushed back, squashing the contents! An archival gummed tape – paper, linen or cotton is best for this. They should be stored horizontally so that your rolled plan is not standing on one end and becoming crushed.

 

Another option for lighter, smaller items is to roll them round a rigid core (with a reasonable diameter, don’t roll things too tightly!). We have used a light-weight, chemically stable foam as a core for this collection of brass rubbings on thin paper. It is long enough to extend beyond the ends of the original item. The rolled item is then covered by an archival paper wrapper. Archival quality tie-on labels can be used to identify them, or you can write directly on the wrapper. These are stored together in a long box on a shelf.

 

Non-woven polyester (like Tyveck®) is also a good choice for larger items. It is strong and chemically inert and you can buy it by the sheet, the roll or the "sleeve" – a ready-made tube which is supplied in long rolls to be cut to size. You can use a sewing machine to make up bags, or wrap and tie like a parcel. We have been trying to phase out our large cardboard tubes (as seen on the right) for better quality materials and a more space efficient solution. These really big maps are stored horizontally on shelves.

Page updated: 17/11/2020 Page updated by: Ally McConnell

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