How do I preserve my photographs?
The most effective and economical preservation measures are preventive: proper storage, storage environment, and handling.
Take proper care when handling photographic materials by:
- Having clean hands and wearing non-scratching, microfiber or nitrile gloves; having a clean work area
- Keeping food and drink away
- Not marking photographs, even on the back side
- Not using paper clips or other fasteners to mark or organize prints
- Not using rubber bands, self-adhesive tape, and/or glue on photographic materials
Good storage is arguably the most important preservation measure for photographic prints and negatives:
- A relatively dry (30-40% relative humidity), cool (room temperature or below), 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; use duplicate slides in light projectors
- Distance from radiators and vents
- Minimal exposure to industrial (particularly sulfur-containing) atmospheric pollutants
- Protective enclosures within a box
Additional Ways to Contact Us
Send written correspondence to:
Library of Congress
101 Independence Ave. SE
Washington, D.C. 20540-4530
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.