Care & Handling of Newspapers

Ever wonder why newspapers turn yellow, become brittle and disintegrate?

        The process used for making newsprint causes acids. Newspapers were meant as a short-term way of providing information to the masses. Newsprint was designed to keep costs down for newspaper publishers. Newspapers were not meant to last more than 50 years. There are, however, a few easy and inexpensive things you can do to help extend the life of your newspapers. Some of them may seem obvious, while others –not so much.

*  Always have clean hands when handling newspapers. 

*  Work with the newspapers on a clean, flat surface. 

*  Do not have food or drink around when working with newspapers. 

*  Do not use tape for repairs, tears are better left unrepaired. Also, do not use rubber bands and paper clips. 

*  Only use the original fold –never fold more and never reverse fold. 

*  Store newspapers as flat as possible –never roll them up. 

*  Keep newspapers away from heat vents, radiators, and baseboard heaters. Besides being a fire hazard, these also dry out the newspapers, making them brittle. 

*  Keep newspapers away from water sources, including potential areas for leaks and flooding –like attics and basements. 

*  Store newspapers in a cool, dark place. 60 to 70 degrees is optimal. Avoid direct sunlight and fluorescent light. 

*  Ideal humidity should be 35% to 40%. Avoid too much humidity (above 65%) because mold will form and the newspaper can warp. 

*  Store in acid free boxes with an alkaline buffer. This helps to neutralize the acids in the paper. These are worth the investment if the newspapers were important enough to you to save them.

Lastly, consider making an index for the newspapers that lists the titles, issues, and dates. This information will be useful so you will know what you have in your collection and later when you pass them onto family members and for digitization projects. 

Because of the way newsprint is made, your newspapers will still continue to deteriorate. However, following these simple care and handling instructions, their life will hopefully be extended.

Video -Wyoming Newspapers: Care & Handling 3 minutes 16 seconds


Library of Congress. Preservation Measures for Newspapers.

Tobey, Dava Aiken. Preserving history: Here’s how to keep that historic newspaper for years to come.