The need to exhibit books and paper artifacts complicates the goal of preservation. The display environment is often more difficult to control than the storage environment. The materials displayed have, almost by definition, special value, and preservation has historically been secondary to exhibit design. At the very least, exhibited objects are exposed to higher light levels than they would normally experience in storage.
Valuable paper collections should never be exhibited permanently, since this can cause irreversible fading and accelerate acidic deterioration. Whenever possible, exhibit duplicates or facsimiles of photographs and other paper-based materials.
In this section, you will consider the three basic issues that must be addressed to ensure that exhibition damages paper collections as little as possible: environment (climate, light, and pollutants); case design; and display methods.
There is a standard for exhibition of paper-based collections. American National Standards Institute/National Information Standards Organization (ANSI/NISO) Z39.79-2001 Environmental Conditions for Exhibiting Library and Archival Materials (PDF) provides more detailed guidelines than those given here. Appendices provide lists of recommended materials for constructing exhibit cases or supports. Also see Protecting Paper and Book Collections During Exhibition for more information on exhibition.