Using Tape: A PSA

Today’s post is a Preservation Public Service Announcement.

Please don’t use tape (scotch, duct, masking, packing, or any other kind) when working with your stuff!

Tape can be very tempting, especially the nice, clear kind. Taping over a tear can make a document seem much more stable. Tape can stop a tear from getting worse, and make us feel more confident about handling the piece. It’s also an easy way to mount something in a scrapbook or ledger.

From the Iowa Jewish Historical Society
That’s tape along the top and the bottom. Eew!

But tape is a quick fix, only meant for short term projects. Never tape anything that you want to preserve for the long term!

Anyone who has worked with archival materials has seen deteriorating tape–and it’s not a pretty sight. As the tape ages, the adhesive dries, turns yellow, and starts to crack. The plastic part of the tape also hardens and separates from the adhesive. In the end, you’re left with a crusty, yellow mess that requires a paper conservator’s expertise to remove.


So please, please resist the temptation to repair your important documents with tape. You’ll thank yourself for it later.

Instead of tape, consider placing the item in an acid-free, polyester, Melinex or polypropylene enclosure such as these or these. They will help support the item without altering it.

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