A. Time is anything but kind to newspapers, which become more faded, yellow and brittle with each passing month.
“Newspapers aren’t called ephemera for nothing,” said Lisa Zaslow, a professional organizer who runs Gotham Organizers in New York. “They are printed on unstable wood pulp, which degrades pretty quickly when exposed to light, humidity and atmospheric pollutants. An acidic chemical reaction is produced which turns the paper brittle and discolored.” If that is not bad enough, each page can contaminate the one next to it.
To curb degradation, Ms. Zaslow suggests storing newspapers in acid- and lignin-free boxes. Two Web sites that sell such boxes (and will “help you to unleash your inner archivist,” she said) are demco.com and archivalsuppliers.com. She recommends the E-Flute Newspaper Storage Box from the latter site (about $23 each, or $22 for 10 or more), which is two inches tall and easily stackable. To go one step further, Ms. Zaslow suggests inserting acid-free tissue paper between each page of newsprint.
Tabloids and newspaper magazines have very thin pages, so they should be preserved in a similar way. Ms. Zaslow recommends drop-front, hinged-lid, acid-free boxes sized to hold standard magazines ($19.88 each or $16.10 for 10 or more, at ArchivalSuppliers). Glossy monthly magazines will not degrade as quickly, but storing them in an acid-free box will not hurt, and neither will putting tissue paper between pages.
Even in an acid-free box, a newspaper or magazine will eventually deteriorate. “If you want to preserve it for future generations, you should also make a color copy of the newspaper on ultra-high-quality paper, which won’t degrade as fast,” said Ron Shuma, a professional organizer who runs A+ Organizing in New York. “Then preserve that.”
Once you have finished your archiving, you need a place to store the boxes. “Decide how often you’re going to access these memories,” Mr. Shuma said. “Chances are, not a lot, in which case the closet’s the perfect place for it, not only because it’s out of the way, but because it’s probably one of the coolest, driest places.” If you have lots of boxes, Mr. Shuma recommends installing a shelving system, like an Elfa closet system.
But if you need to have frequent access to your archives, you should consider storing the boxes in a more prominent place. Elinor Jones, an interior designer in Atlanta, suggests turning a rarely used room like a formal dining room into “a multipurpose room — not just for dining, but also a little study.”
“Get a cover for your dining table so you can work on your archiving,” she said, “and get strong custom shelves on the upper part of the wall to hold the boxes.” Or invest in an armoire with shelves wide enough to accommodate large boxes.
Another way to keep the boxes out of sight but within easy reach is to put them in a storage ottoman, like the Home Decorators Collection’s Donovan ($199 to $499 at homedecorators.com). It comes in 20-inch, 40-inch and 60-inch lengths.NYTimes, Home and Garden section.By STEPHEN MILIOTI. Published: February 7, 2008