Filing cabinets versus boxes on shelves

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    • #133135
      Joy Banks
      Participant

      Hi all,
      I’ve been in my current position for two years now, and I’m starting to seriously evaluate the storage of paper and photographic objects that was taking place before my arrival. We currently have a number of filing cabinets filled with folders of paper (concert programs, newspaper clippings, correspondence, etc.). These are somewhat organized but often difficult to browse because the drawers are so full. We also have additional cabinets that have our photographic archive. The photos are stored in clear C-Line poypropylene sheet protectors of a variety of sizes. This product was selected primarily due to the fact that you can insert a metal/plastic (we have a mix) hanger through the sheet to hang in a filing cabinet. There are often multiple pictures to a sheet section and many of the photographs don’t actually fit in the sheets, so they edges are getting significant damage. We also have a number of slides and negatives that are also stored in a similar manner, and not always separated from the developed photographs.

      As I think about alternative storage, I am just curious what others think about a filing cabinet system such as ours (that apparently needs more filing cabinets to help ease the crowding problems) versus a system that would incorporate a variety of archival boxes of varying sizes that could then be placed on shelves. It seems that one advantage of the latter is that you can then access only the materials in which you are interested and leave the other items undisturbed. But that system would also be quite an investment (appropriate boxes, new folders/sleeves, shelves). Would it be worth pursuing? Any other suggestions on storage? We aren’t quite at a digitization phase, so keeping our print objects safe is very important.

    • #133143
      Peter E. Durbin
      Participant

      Joy:
      We also have a collection of photogrpahs, invitations, clippings, journals, etc. We use flip-top document cases, expanding file folders, manuscript file folders, and archival sheet protectors. They are used thus: One clipping, document or one photo per sheet protector. Item has accesssion number as well as same number on sheet protector. Related items are placed in a manuscript file folder unless there are several. Related file folders as well as sheet protectors when there are huge related number of items are placed in expanding file folders with attached ties.
      We have several years worth of Chatauqua programs. Fragil ones are in sheet protectors and whole collection is in a tied expanding file folder. We use expanding file folders, one for each graduating class from our high school.
      Larger related collections (scouting, local women’s clubs) are stored in flip-top document cases. They store well. They give a neat appearance. Researchers find them helpful because all related items are within one storage unit. Each individual item is protected and we have found that there has been far less damage than when everything was kept in file cabinets.
      Pete Durbin

    • #133142
      Janean Van Beckum
      Participant

      Hi Joy,

      I think it really depends on how you use the collection. Our extensive Research Center collection is housed in filing cabinets, this includes our 20,000 piece Photo Archives which is stored similar to your situation-in archival, hanging sleeves. The biggest problem we have with storing photos like this is them curling at the edges. Photos which do not fit in the archival sleeve are stored flat in separate “newspaper” storage boxes, to reduce ware on edges. Our entire collection is digitized, so this also reduces ware on the originals. Filing cabinets are much easier for our research center, which gets heavy use. Our numbering and organization system is also optimized for a Research Center, not as a static collection, so filing cabinets are ideal for our purpose.

      However, the items in the RC collection are mainly copies, duplicates, or items that we don’t deem particularly important to preserve. The paper items which are in the object collection are the originals of those in the RC, or documents the average researcher is not interested in and a special appointment needs to be made to view them. These are in flip top boxes and organized in a different way than our RC documents.

      If you want more specifics on our system, let me know.
      Janean Van Beckum

    • #133141
      Joy Banks
      Participant

      Thank you both for sharing. It seems like there are viable arguments for both methods. We’ll just have to seek out the best option for our collections.

      ~Joy

    • #133140
      Alan Porter
      Member

      Just noticed this discussion, sorry. We have mostly flip top boxes and file boxes of two sizes with contents in either archival folders or archival envelopes. The more valuable and fragile items are also encapsulated. Our problem is that we have some oversize materials that don’t fit in the boxes because they are a bit too high. The alternative of newspaper flat storage boxes we have looked at but the ones we have looked at are so big and expensive (and waste valuable storage space as well) that we are reluctant to go that route for documents/photos about 11 or 12 inches by about 16 or 18 inches, and we seem to have a number of those, mostly old photos mounted on heavy card stock. I’ve wondered about getting a local volunteer to build a special wooden file drawer or box, as regular drawers are a little too shallow. We did at one time find some smaller newspaper flat boxes with metal corners that would work but cannot seem to find them anymore. Any suggestions?

    • #133139
      Joy Banks
      Participant

      Hi Alan,
      I know that Gaylord offers custom box sizes, and I’m sure that other archival supply companies do the same. We’re working with them right now for a very specific custom box, but haven’t received the price quote y et. They claim that there is no extra charge and no minimum order for custom boxes. Just taking a quick look at their most recent catalog, they offer at least flip-top, drop-front oversize print, clamshell, and newspaper boxes all in custom sizes. It may be worth getting a quote to get just what you need. This way, you could also order boxes that were the same size as ones that you already used in your collection, too. Good luck!
      ~Joy

    • #133138
      Janean Van Beckum
      Participant

      Alan,

      You can make boxes yourself. It is relatively easy and less expensive than having custom boxes made if all you need is small number of straightforward boxes. If you are unfamiliar with the materials or technique, check out this CCI note http://www.cci-icc.gc.ca/publications/notes/11-1-eng.aspx I would be careful with getting having a wooden box build since wood can be very damaging, especially to paper/photographs. The damages is increased in enclosed areas such as a drawer.
      Good luck!
      Janean

    • #133137
      Susan Doocy
      Participant

      Janean,
      I am interested in how your system works as well for storing original documents, photos, etc, and duplicates for research purposes. We have a system of finding photos (originals and duplicates, all in the same area) and documents in file cabinets and are slowing entering data and images into PastPerfect.

      Thanks
      Sue Doocy

    • #133136
      Melody Marshall
      Participant

      Janean,
      Hi. I’m interested in your filing cabinets system for storing photos in archival hanging sleeves. We are several filing cabinets in our collection storage area. I would like to find a way to safely store some of our photo collections in them if possible. We also store photo collections in sleeves, archival folders then into archival boxes. But sometimes large photos do not fit into the document boxes. Where did you acquire archival hanging sleeves and folders? And what is your system for filing the photos? Thanks,
      Melody Marshall

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