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Storage of Large Paper Objects

Purpose

 Flat file drawer cabinets are a practical, cost-effective, and safe storage system for collections containing numerous, large paper objects. Flat file drawer cabinets are durable and relatively waterproof.

 Oversize flat files should provide storage for most of the largest paper objects found in a typical collection. In addition, smaller objects can be grouped in stacks within drawers. These objects may include drawings on paper (or drafting film), maps, posters, and other printed materials.

 If the object is larger than the largest commercially available flat file drawer cabinet, or if the objects are so few in number as to not warrant the purchase of a special cabinet, small scale storage systems may be used. These systems include storing small numbers of objects flat in portfolios or rolling them onto tubing.
(See Brown, “Method for Rolling Flat, Flexible Objects,” this volume.)

Author(s)

Sarah S. Wagner
3000 Connecticut Avenue, NW #318
Washington, DC 20008 USA
Tel (202) 483-7529

Illustrations: Karen Ackoff after
sketches by Sarah S. Wagner

Publication: 1992

Description

Flat file drawer cabinets are a practical, cost-effective, and safe storage system for collections containing numerous, large paper objects. Flat file drawer cabinets are durable and relatively waterproof.

Oversize flat files should provide storage for most of the largest paper objects found in a typical collection. In addition, smaller objects can be grouped in stacks within drawers. These objects may include drawings on paper (or drafting film), maps, posters, and other printed materials.

If the object is larger than the largest commercially available flat file drawer cabinet, or if the objects are so few in number as to not warrant the purchase of a special cabinet, small scale storage systems may be used. These systems include storing small numbers of objects flat in portfolios or rolling them onto tubing. (See Brown, “Method for Rolling Flat, Flexible Objects,” this volume.)


Description

Flat file drawers, or map cases, are metal storage cabinets having four to five shallow horizontal drawers per cabinet. The cabinets are stackable and come in several sizes. A typical drawer size for a large cabinet is 50in wide x 38in deep and 1 to 3in high. Oversize flat files are available up to 47in wide x 75in deep x 1in high. Various sizes are available from different vendors


Materials Tools Supplies

  • 100% Cotton twill tape
  • Corrugated paperboard, single or double wall,alkaline reserve, lignin-free, alum-free, high alpha-cellulose
  • Drawer dividers with magnetic strip on base
  • Folders, alkaline reserve, lignin-free, alum-free, high alpha-cellulose paper
  • Heavyweight linen or canvas, starch-filled (bookbinders buckram)
  • Interleaving paper, tissue or text weight, alkaline reserve (pH 7-8.5), lignin-free, alum-free, high alpha-cellulose, on a roll or standard sizes up to 30x40in.
  • Metal flat file storage cabinets
  • Paper board, alkaline reserve (pH 7-8.5), 2ply, 4ply, and 6ply or 60pt paper board alkaline reserve (pH 7-8.5), lignin-free, 4ply
  • Polyester film, clear, uncoated, bi-axially oriented, 3mil – 5mil
  • Polyvinyl acetate emulsion adhesive


Comments

General Storage Methods

Individual Housing

Ideally, every object stored in a cabinet should be individually housed in its own enclosure such as a mat, polyester film encapsulation, or a simple paper or polyester folder (Fig.1). (See Smith, “Matting and Hinging Flat Paper Objects” and NEDCC, “Encapsulation in Polyester Film Using Double-coated Tape”, this volume.)

Figure 1. Each object should be housed in a folder.

Items Grouped in Folders

For large collections, it may be more practical to group five to ten objects into a large map folder. Standard size map folders can be stacked in flat file drawers to facilitate handling and storage.

  1. Purchase a folder of a size that provides a margin of at least one inch around the largest object inside, No object should extend outside the folder, otherwise its edges will be vulnerable to damage.
  2. Purchase interleaving paper cut to the same size as the folder.
  3. Interleave objects with a sheet of lightweight, alkaline buffered paper.
  4. Group objects by size.
  5. Place smaller objects on top of larger objects to reduce unevenness and distortions in the pile, and to facilitate handling during retrieval and refiling. Interleaving paper also provides additional support when one lifts out an object from the folder.


Large Portfolios

Large portfolios can be made from double-wall, pH neutral, corrugated board, hinged along one long side with polyvinyl acetate adhesive and heavy cloth, or library buckram, a starch filled cloth used to cover books, (Fig. 2).

Figure 2. Large corrugated board folder.

The portfolio can be stored horizontally on top of shelving or flat file cabinets .

  1. Cut two pieces of board of identical dimensions.
  2. Place the two pieces side by side, long sides together.
  3. Form a hinge, by attaching a piece of buckram or heavy cloth to the boards with polyvinyl acetate emulsion adhesive.
  4. Adhere lengths of cotton twill tape to form ties on the outside of both boards, on opposite sides of the hinge.


Rolled Storage

Rolled storage onto pH neutral paperboard tubes (wide diameter of 6in or more), may be practical for small numbers of extremely large paper objects. Brittle items, stiffly lined objects, or objects with heavy media should not be rolled because damage may occur to the paper or media. (See Brown, “Method for Rolling Flat, Flexible Objects,” this volume.)

Textile Shelving Design

Custom-made, large size horizontal shelving units can be used to store paper objects. Some designs used for flat textile storage utilize large window screens as ‘shelves.’ These systems can also be used for large paper objects. (See Brown, “Support for Large, Lightweight, Flat Objects,” this volume.)


Drawings on drafting film should not be encapsulated or housed in polyester enclosures. Drafting film drawings should be isolated from other materials and stored in their own alkaline reserve paper folders. The special storage needs of these materials is due to the fact that the plastic is almost always acetate film, which becomes increasingly acidic and off gases acetic acid as it ages.

Objects with brittle mounts benefit most from individual recessed housings (sink mat). (See Campbell, “Support System for Fragile Three-dimensional Objects: Shadow Puppets” and CCAHA, “Enclosure for Broken Glass Plate Negatives”, this volume.) Large brittle objects can be encapsulated with rigid mat board or stored in rigid portfolios as previously described.

The preferred interleaving materials is an alkaline reserve (pH 7-8.5), lignin-free, alum-free, high alpha-cellulose paper, versus polyester film. The polyester film does not provide the alkaline reserve needed to neutralize the inherent acidity of some papers.

If support is needed for ease in handling the objects, a heavier weight paper or folder stock should be chosen over lightweight tissue paper.

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