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How to look after your fiche/film


One of the main culprits for damaging film/fiche is dust, which can cause scratches. Silver-gelatine are particularly vulnerable to such damage. Equipment needs regular cleaning to remove dust, and the vacuuming of store and use areas is essential.

Gaseous air contaminants can damage both films and their emulsions. To reduce the chances, film should never be kept near photocopiers (which can be a source of ozone), newly painted items or rooms, or wooden shelving or cabinets as harmful acids and other damaging substances are emitted by wood, sealants or adhesives.

Films that use different emulsions should never be rolled on the same spools, but in the same sleeves, or stored in the same containers, to prevent chemical interactions.

Nitrate and acetate also produce acidic deterioration and should be physically separated from other films and systematically replaced.



Closed steel cabinets are the ideal way to store fiche. The sleeves can be stored snuggly in the drawers, but never squashed in order to fit. If a drawer is not full, use spacers to prevent curling.

Make sure the emulsion side is away from the interior closure edges to prevent abrasion and the adhesives on sealed edges.

Boxed films can be stored in drawers, cabinets or on open shelves. Rolls need to be in individual boxes to prevent chemical interactions. Boxes need to pass the Photographic Activity Test, and paper enclosures need to be acid and lignin free and buffered.

Reels should be in a wound position secured appropriately. Never use rubber bands - ideally a paper tag secured with string and a button tie.



Skin oils and fingerprints can really damage microforms, so handling should be limited. Just like my vinyl collection - edges only please! Only one microform should be removed from its enclosure at one time, and then immediately re-sleeved/boxed after use.

If the forms are stored in low temperatures, but the viewing equipment located in a different room, then a conditioning period of gradually warming the film to the new surrounding's temperature is required. Rapid transfer between temperatures may cause damaging condensation.


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