Do you have historic books with yellowing pages and fading ink?
- Do you have paper documents that are brittle and break into little pieces when they are handled?
- Perhaps you have documents and books that were damaged by flood and/or fire?
If any of these cases sound familiar and you are interested in recovering and stabilizing your records, the Document Preservation Laboratory can help. We provide a range of services that stop deterioration and improve the condition and appearance of your records, allowing you to handle and store them safely.
Laboratory services are provided on a fee-for-service basis. They are available to state and local agencies, private individuals and institutions. We can examine your records and provide a cost estimate for services, at no charge. We also provide assistance and advice in the areas of preventive conservation and disaster recovery, where records are involved.
We test whether ink handwriting and typewriting can withstand certain treatments such as soaking, removal of adhesives, and aqueous deacidification.
Dirt and grime can hide information and contribute to the deterioration of paper. Cleaning dirt off the surface will brighten the document, making it easier to read. We have two methods of removing surface dirt from paper documents: dry cleaning and soaking in water. Dry cleaning removes most of the surface dirt from a document. If the condition of a document allows, soaking further removes embedded dirt and refreshes the paper fibers.
Tape and glue removal
Tape, glue, sealing wax and other attachments are acidic and will stain and damage the document over time. Metal fasteners such as paper clips and staples will rust, leaving stains and damaging the paper. We will remove these items and any residue caused by them.
Mold on paper leads to deterioration. It will eventually eat the paper, leaving dust behind. If your documents or books have mold, we can remove it. To prevent further mold growth after treatment, documents must be kept in a controlled environment with proper temperature and humidity levels.
Over time, paper documents can lose their natural moisture content and become dry, brittle, and unusable. If these documents have been rolled, folded or crumpled, any attempt at flattening might tear them. The process of humidification replaces the lost moisture content in dry and brittle documents, allowing them to be used without fear of damage.
Parchment and vellum documents can be difficult to access when they have been rolled or folded for a long period of time. We have a stretcher that can straighten these documents, ensuring continued use. This is a slow process and can take several months.
Paper contains acids that will damage the paper over time. The deterioration of paper by acids can be stopped through the process of deacidification, although any damage that has occurred cannot be reversed. The process of deacidification neutralizes damaging acids and installs a buffer agent in paper to prevent reacidification. We have two methods of deacidification: a water-based bath of magnesium bicarbonate or a non-water-based spray for documents whose inks are unstable or that, for other reasons, should not be immersed in liquid.
Documents that are in pieces are difficult to use and in danger of becoming lost information. If documents are torn or in pieces, we can usually put them back together using non-acidic tissue paper or Japanese paper. This will also reinforce documents and make them suitable for handling again.
Encapsulation is the method of enclosing a document between two sheets of clear polyester film. This process is entirely reversible and provides the document with physical protection and support, allowing it to be handled and stored with less danger of damage occurring.
The Department for Libraries and Archives also provides micrographics services for your preservation needs.