Personal Collection Preservation Dos and Don'ts

A book is open and hand holds a thin silver tool under the top, fragile page.

Proper storage and care are key to keeping your personal collection of books, vinyl, photos and film in great condition. In honor of Preservation Week, here are tips to help you properly preserve your collections from our Preservation Department at The Ohio State University Libraries.

General Tips:

  • DO protect from dust and light

  • DO handle with clean, dry hands

  • DON’T store items where high humidity or temperatures can occur (basements and attics) If you must choose one: pick the basement.

  • DON’T store items directly on the floor

  • DON’T eat, drink, or smoke while handling collections

Books and Paper:

  • DO use a paper bookmark

  • DO keep small- to medium-sized books upright on shelves

  • DO remove book from the shelf by gripping on both sides of the spine at the middle of the book

  • DON’T store books on the fore-edge

  • DON’T repair valuable books/documents with tape or regular commercial glue

AV Preservation:

  • DO label your media – write down whatever you know!

  • DO clean with care – use lint-free cloths and research your cleaners

  • DO line them up vertically like books and support with book-ends

  • DO consider migrating to a digital file

  • DON’T stack things on top of one another

  • DON’T set it and forget it

For vinyl records:

  • DO add a static-free polyester sleeve inside the original cardboard sleeve

For film:

  • DO smell your film. If it smells like vinegar, separate it from all other films and keep in a well-ventilated area.

For audio and video tapes in a cassette:

  • DO remove the recording tab


  • DO store in enclosures that have passed the Photographic Activity Test (PAT)

  • DO use a soft pencil on the back for labeling

  • DO use a window mat when framing to prevent the photograph from sticking to the glass

  • DON'T place historic or important photographs on permanent display – use a reproduction

  • DON’T touch the surface directly

Emergency Response:

If your items have been affected by an emergency, contact the National Heritage Responders hotline

Find Additional Resources:

Caring for Your Treasures - Cultural Heritage

Preservation Self-Assessment Program (PSAP) | Collection ID Guide (

About Preservation Week