Tips from the Archivist: De-Fang your Papers!

No, your papers do not actually have teeth, but they could potentially have glinting pieces of metal tucked in the corner(s) or along the side(s) or randomly placed in the middle. This is because…well we have yet to discover why they end up there, but sometimes they do.

You may have guessed what we’re referring to – metal fasteners like staples, paper clips, and other bindings that may be useful for keeping your papers together but are a nightmare for archivists.

Metal fasteners rust very easily. Exposed to a variety of elements and humidity, they begin to oxidize and burrow deep into the papers they are holding together, creating not just an indentation of the metal, but a rusty one at that. Paper clips do the same thing, leaving an unattractive brownish-red paper clip “shadow” on the paper. The best bet against the rusting of metal fasteners is to replace them with vinyl coated paper clips. That was easy!

And while we’re at it, remove those rubber bands, too. Over time, rubber bands dry out, stick to your documents, and leave behind remnants of rubber or shadows of brown, sticky residue. We’ve seen rubber bands on photographs, papers, and objects and yes, they dry out and leave their residue behind regardless of the material.

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