Have photo albums had there day ?
Digital photography has brought many changes to the ways in which photos are being printed and kept. Although more photos are being taken, with great new low cost cameras and even mobile phones, the sales of photo albums have plummeted. The reasons are obvious. The ease of keeping pictures on your hard disk or on CD’s is appealing and everyone is doing it.
What many people and even some archives do not seem to know or understand is that for long term storage of photos, computer hard disks and CD’s are not suitable. It is necessary to keep hard copies, slides and negatives in albums if the objective is to keep them for future generations.
Computer technology and programs are changing rapidly and if photos are required to be kept for many years it is a sure bet that your computer of the future will not be compatible with the programs of today. Keeping photos on CD’s is also increasingly popular and convenient but again it is not a good solution for long term storage according to German Physicist and data control expert Kurt Gerecke. He is reported as saying that burned CD’s will not last long, vary with quality, and do not offer a long term archiving solution.
The problem with photo albums is that they have not kept pace with the times. It is not so long since the shocking “Sticky” and “Magnetic” albums and albums made of PVC were replaced in the market with products that were more photo- safe. But the typical album sizes were and still are designed for display and the coffee table. When the time comes for filing them they are an awkward size for both the home and archive shelving.
When it comes to filing slides and negatives even professional archives have had to resort to using such things as steel filing cabinets and suspension files – not the ideal things to have in archives.
And now a new factor has entered the scene –“Sustainability”. There is international agreement that we must all reduce the cutting down of trees and increase recyclability of the things that we use. How do photo albums made of paper and with metal rings score? Very badly.
Albums have not had their day. They are, the best ones, still the only way to go for keeping photographics long term. But new and better designs of albums are needed to meet today’s standards.
There is one company in Australia that has lead the world in meeting the challenge of producing better and “Sustainable” albums.
Over a decade ago Albox Australia Pty Ltd introduced significant improvements in ways to keep and display photographic items. The albums were fitted with nylon rings. Pages for practically all sizes of photos, negatives and slides were designed to fit those albums. In response to requests from Professional Conservators, Albox also designed a box and file tray style album to enable the pages to be hung in suspension rather than being laid flat or hung from vertical spines in the albums.
All of these products feature polypropylene in both the pages and the album covers. The entire Albox system is 100% recyclable, acid free, metal free and adhesive free. Because of the use of polypropylene the Albox systems conform to “Sustainability” requirements. This Albox system is now widely used by archives, libraries, genealogists and homes throughout Australia. Exports are growing.