Prepared by Elisabeth Lindsay.
Records preservation is the act of protecting cultural and historical records from loss or decay, to preserve them for future generations. The aim of preservation is to minimize chemical and physical deterioration and prevent the loss of informational content. Many records fall into this category, including paper documents, photographs, film, tape -- virtually anything of cultural or historical value that can be lost, damaged, or broken. Besides time itself, light, temperature extremes, humidity, and storage methods may accelerate deterioration, which preservation techniques can help to alleviate.
While libraries and archives may enlist professional preservationists, for genealogists and family history researchers, preservation can be the simple act of storing documents and photographs in acid-free folders and boxes; scanning or otherwise digitizing documents, photos, films and tapes to preserve them in their current state; and then distributing copies to prevent loss in case of fire or natural disaster. Many online resources are available to guide researchers in preservation techniques, in addition to the many products and technologies to aid the process. You may also consult Genealogy Today for articles on preserving documents and photos.