Preservation of Scrapbooks

May 29, 2007

Last week I attended a workshop on preservation of scrapbooks that was held at Bird Library, Syracuse University. The presenter was Deb Wender of the Northeast Document Conservation Center. What a great speaker! She was fun to listen to and I learned a lot. There were about 25 people in the class and each brought a scrapbook in need of preservation. The last hour, or so, Deb looked at each scrapbook and made recommendations on how to proceed. With the wide variety of problems presented we all walked away with a good idea of how to evaluate the needs of our collections.

As always I have a list of things that I think will be most helpful to me.

  • Number all the pages, if there is loose material number it with the page number and them an item number. 2.1, 2.2, etc. Don’t use letters, you will always run out. Be consistent in your numbering and where you number.
  • If you take apart a scrapbook and folder each page, store the scrapbook cover on top of the folders, so the pages are not deformed.
  • Leather covers will develop red rot (We have this on a number of books in our closed collection). Make a polyester dust jacket. We will start doing this with leather covered books that we make phase boxes for, what a mess they make!
  • Interleaf between the pages of a scrapbook with light weight, buffered paper to keep pages from sticking, or acids from discoloring. Don’t put the paper all the way into the binding.
  • Instruct patrons (and workers) on how to support the pages as they turn them. Perhaps provide a metal spatula to help them keep their hands oils off any photos.
  • The most important thing seems to be to provide a well fitted housing and store flat, fully supported. Don’t stack more than two high.
  • Never use glue stick, glassine, or filmoplast.

So here I am, just back from vacation with information from three workshops that I need to integrate into my thinking and procedures. Reunion is Friday, so I guess that has to be the next focus.


2 Responses to “Preservation of Scrapbooks”

  1. Laura Says:


    As always, thank you for sharing what you’ve learned. These are great tips! I don’t have time right now to focus on our scrapbooks (Mercer U. is turning 175 next year, so I’m working on exhibits, etc. for that), but I’m going to print out your blog and put it on the shelf! That way, I should be able to find it when I need it!


  2. Abby Says:

    I’m having a slightly different issue with scrapbooks. I was charged with a former president’s album to make 3 copies from.

    The best I could figure was to photograph the pages, then scan all the photos, newspaper clippings, and letters, to be edited later (my scanner tended to cut off sides of photos, so I used different colored paper to frame items, which will needed editing out). I’ll have a photo place print out the photos and use my color printer for the rest.

    It won’t be perfect, but I only had the album for a month and I could only work on it about 2 days a week. But it will be my first finished product.

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