Rubber Bands and Special Collections / Archives Don’t Mix

Written by: Bexx Caswell-Olson

Primary Source: Wallace Conservation Lab, March 29, 2016

Rubber bands are great to lots of things, but they don’t have a place in Special Collections or Archives!

Rubber bands are made from natural rubber.  As rubber ages, it becomes dry and brittle.  When exposed to heat and humidity, rubber becomes soft and sticky.  In this example, a rubber band around a DVD box must have gotten warm and sticky.  It stuck to the paper box (and the box stored next to it), and later dried out and became a hard, powdery mess.  It will be difficult to remove without causing damage to the item.

If you need to hold an item together because it has loose parts, it is preferable to use unbleached cotton tying tape.

The following two tabs change content below.
Bexx Caswell-Olson
Before migrating to Michigan and beginning work at the MSU Libraries Wallace Conservation Lab, Bexx Caswell-Olson was employed as a bookbinder and book conservator in private practice in Iowa City, IA. Prior to running her own business, Bexx spent nearly a decade living in the Boston area where she worked in a variety of libraries and conservation labs, including those at Harvard and MIT. She is Vice President of the Guild of Book Workers, a national organization for those working in bookbinding, book conservation, and the book arts. Bexx holds a Certificate in Bookbinding from the North Bennet Street School and a Master’s of Library Science from Simmons College. In addition to her passion for bookbinding, Bexx also has an affinity for typography, bibliomysteries, seed bead weaving, and vegan baking.