Archival Standards

From: Mary Lombard
Sent: Wed 11/19/2008 4:22 PM
 
  
 
Mark,
 
Are you able and willing to address “archival” standards vs. the industry standards (and CM’s, too, would be great!) on your blog or in a response to me? I’m a CM consultant, and I have customers who buy from companies that claim archival and museum quality, but I haven’t been able to get any word from those companies about what that means *specifically* in terms of acid/lignin and all that. These customers are concerned with this issues, obviously, so I’d like to be able to address that with them.
It would be great if CM made statements about this, but I’d be glad to take anything from someone in the industry whom I TRUST (that would be you), and the “archival/museum” company customer services don’t actually provide a service that responds to these questions and concerns. 
Thanks.
Mary Lombard

Hi Mary,

Unfortunately, many products are labeled “archival” or “photo-safe” to sell more products, not because they  preserve photographs. The government has no clear standard or regulation on what is or is not archival, and companies use and abuse this term as they see fit. One company labels natural paper archival even though it contains lignin, the same material that causes newspapers to rapidly yellow. Another labels a toxic product photo-safe. It may be photo-safe, but I wouldn’t want it around my family. A third company labels PVC plastic stickers acid-free. I have seen many examples of products with confusing or misleading labels.

I am not saying that all scrapbook products are mislabeled, only that the average consumer will have a difficult time distinguishing good products from bad. At Creative Memories, the only way we can tell good products from bad is to test them. Good products are then labeled with the Creative Memories ISO 18902 logo, indicating that they comply with international standards for photo-safety.  For more information on this standard and on the requirements for photo-safe products, check out The Creative Memories Guide to ISO 18902.

Mark

About Mark Mizen

I have over twenty years professional experience in all aspects of photography and digital imaging. I am Chair of the ISO WG5 TG2 committee responsible for physical properties and durability of imaging material and am currently with HID Global working on systems for security printing for IDs, licenses, and credit cards. Previously, I was Director of Digital Development at Creative Memories from 2009 to 2012 and was responsible for the Creative Memories digital products and services. I also established and directed the Creative Memories Technology Center, which evaluated new products prior to product introduction, assisted with production difficulties, and provided technical information to support product sales.
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1 Response to Archival Standards

  1. Mary Lombard says:

    So “archival” is being used much as “organic” and “natural” are used in the food industry: It sounds healthy, but it’s not regulated by anyone, so you can’t really be sure. Unless an “organic” product has the Oregon Tilth logo on it, for example, it’s not *guaranteed* organic. And unless photo products have the CM logo on them–and now, the ISO logo–they’re not *guaranteed* photo safe. Thanks for the response!

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