Archivist, meet your new best friend: Mylar

Hello everyone! I’ve finished up another productive few days as a CCEPS Fellow here in Special Collections, and I’m excited to have accomplished so much. 

Most of my time this week has been devoted to arranging and preserving the Nag Hammadi Codices Project records. Of the 14 boxes which comprise this collection, 10 of them are almost exclusively facsimile photographs of the Nag Hammadi manuscripts. Although we always make sure to carefully preserve everything Special Collections accessions, it’s doubly important that these Nag Hammadi images are kept in as pristine a condition as possible. This is because the Nag Hammadi manuscripts themselves are losing more and more of their legibility with every passing year (see this link for more information:; it turns out being many centuries old will do that to reading material! Given these circumstances, the best way to make sure the information written on the Nag Hammadi papyri is passed down to future generations is to make sure facsimile image collections – such as the one I’m working on right now – are meticulously preserved.
My best friend in this endeavor is a shiny little substance called mylar. Mylar is a clear, acid-free polyester. It won’t ever yellow, and when it is used to encase photographs, it is a powerful tool to prevent image deterioration (see here for a little bit more of an introduction: As you can see in the below photograph, mylar sleeves come in a variety of sizes:
mylar sleeves_blog ready.jpg
If you’re having trouble finding a sleeve which is the right size, you can also cut your own – I’ve definitely done that this week!
Although it takes extra time and effort to place every individual photograph in its own mylar case, any archivist will tell you it’s 100% worth it. If you’re interested in preserving some hard copy images at home – especially really important ones (e.g. old family photos of your great-grandparents!) – do consider investing in some mylar of your own! It’s much less expensive than losing an irreplaceable image!