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Making Archival Scrapbooks


Mounting photographs, paper and other items on scrapbook pages adds thickness to the book. Use albums that can expand to accommodate attached items or that come empty and take refill pages to avoid damage to the spine and covers.  

Using a binder style album allows for mixing of different kinds of pages: photograph and document sleeves, polyester envelopes, heavy paper, and even mat board or cardstock. 

Page protectors keep facing pages from sticking to or discoloring each other. Use polypropylene, polyester or Mylar page protectors and DO NOT use any made from vinyl or PVC.  

NOTE: For pages with friable, or easily crumbled, media that might separate from the page, such as chalk, pencil, colored pencil, pastel, or charcoal, use a paper interleaf of acid-free/lignin-free/unbuffered paper instead of polyester or polypropylene to avoid damage from static. 

Use materials that have passed the Photograph Activity Test. They will last longer and are safe for the items in your scrapbook.


Use paper that is acid-free, lignin-free, and pH-neutral for scrapbooks which hold photographs. 

For color photographs, avoid buffered paper or paper with a pH above 7.0. 

Use paper thick enough to hold your attachments – a good weight for scrapbook page paper is 80 lb.  Artist’s 80 lb. 100% rag paper can make fine scrapbook pages in a binder-style album. 

Avoid decorative or colored papers unless they are colorfast, lightfast or fade-resistant, as they might not only fade but can bleed if they become wet.


Use tapes that are acid-free with an acrylic-based adhesive. 

Some of these tapes have passed the Photographic Activity Test; those tapes are also safe to use with photographs. 

There are also some acid-free types of glue, usually polyvinyl acetate (PVA), that can be used in small quantities. 

DO NOT use rubber cement, glue sticks, hot glue guns, or other types of glue or tape. 

If using stickers, look for acid-free stickers with acid-free, acrylic-based adhesives. 


Many inks are water soluble and will run when damp or wet.  

Some inks also contain solvents (such as the ink used in Sharpies) and can dissolve photograph emulsions or eat through pages.  

Many inks are dye-based, are not colorfast and will fade very quickly.  

Look for pigment-based inks, as they are more stable and will last longer than dye-based inks. There are pigment-based inks available in pens, on stamp-pads, and for ink-jet printers.

imls180.for.panel.jpgMany of these resources and programs are funded under the provisions of the Library Services and Technology Act from the Institute of Museum and Library Services. Florida's LSTA program is administered by the Department of State's Division of Library and Information Services.