How do I preserve my paper collections (e.g. documents, manuscripts, drawings, prints, posters, maps)?

The most effective and economical preservation measures are preventive: proper storage, storage environment, and handling.

Take proper care when handling flat works on paper by:

  • Having clean hands and a clean work area
  • Keeping food and drink away
  • Using pencil, not ink, to make any necessary marks or inscriptions; in addition, only make inscriptions when the paper is on a clean, hard surface, to avoid embossing the inscription into the paper, which will be visible from the other side
  • Not using paper clips, other fasteners, "dog ear" folding to mark or organize leaves
  • Not using rubber bands, self-adhesive tape, and/or glue on paper

Good storage significantly prolongs the preservation of paper materials and includes:

  • A cool (room temperature or below), relatively dry (about 35% relative humidity), clean, and stable environment (avoid attics, basements, and other locations with high risk of leaks and environmental extremes)
  • Minimal exposure to all kinds of light; no exposure to direct or intense light
  • Distance from radiators and vents
  • Supportive protective enclosures
  • Unfolded and flat or rolled storage for oversized papers
  • Individual/isolated storage of acidic papers to prevent acids from migrating into the other works on paper


Last Updated: Mar 02, 2021
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Additional Ways to Contact Us

Send written correspondence to:

Preservation Directorate
Library of Congress
101 Independence Ave. SE
Washington, D.C.  20540-4530

Please Note

We cannot provide: conservation (including review, examination, treatment), digitization/reformatting, access to/use of Library of Congress equipment, project funding, appraisals, recommendations for products or vendors, materials testing or analysis, preservation courses or classes, and/or responses to vendors seeking to sell or promote commercial products.