If you have old photos or photo books stashed away in your home, you want to make sure you’re storing them correctly. Our photos are one of the only ways to pass memories of loved ones to our children and their children, making them an important and priceless heirloom for our posterity. Too many photos sadly get destroyed by poor storage. Attics, basements, and garages are not good places for these irreplaceable items as they are often damp spaces or experience major temperature and humidity fluctuations. Or, you could have a pest problem come in and wreak havoc on important items. There is some debate about the optimal storage temperature and humidity level for photos and papers, but basically, if you’re feeling hot and sweaty in a room, your pictures are feeling that too. Really the best way to keep your photos in good shape for many, many years is to store them in a climate-controlled (not temperature-controlled) storage unit. Temperature-controlled units only control heat and cold, whereas climate-controlled units regulate both temperature and humidity, which is what is needed for photo safety. Now that you’re ready to ship those photos to safer place, don’t just put them in a box, send them to the unit, and call it good. There is a method to this preservation, and you don’t want to do this halfway.
First, shop around to find a good storage facility that offers climate-controlled units that are clean, safe, secure, and easily accessible (for you). Then hire someone or take some time to digitally copy your photos onto the cloud or a USB drive. This ensures you always have those photos and allows an additional protection as organization opportunity. Plus, you can send them easily to family and friends as needed. Also log your photos and document details such as who is in the photo, where it was taken, what year/timeframe it was taken, and any important specifics surrounding the photo. It may time some time, but you will not regret it.
For loose photos, store them in a photo-safe container and do not over-fill the container. Make sure the containers are free of acid, PVC, and lignin. You want a little breathing room in there, so don’t pack them in because they can get stuck together over time. If you have photos in an album, make sure they’re acid-free and also avoid over-filling them. Avoid using duct tape, paperclips, or rubber bands as these can scratch the paper and deteriorate the photo over the years.
Inside the unit, consider using a shelf for books to be upright. Bring in bookends so they aren’t stored on an angle, which can damage the spine. If you stack books flat, put the largest and heaviest ones on the bottom, and don’t stack too high—12 inches maximum. Additionally, try to keep them off the ground, so consider bringing in some shelving, and leave about 4 inches between the books or phots and the walls, ceiling, and floor. At Oquirrh View Storage, we have several sized indoor, climate-controlled units for valuables such as photos and books. Don’t wait any longer to get special, delicate items into a safe storage unit.