Volume 10, Number 4
How I Use Sticky Tape
by Ellen McCrady
I would be lying if I told you I never used sticky tape. I think
you would have to look hard to find someone who does not use it for
wrapping packages, posting notes on the refrigerator door, or
holding pieces of paper together. Sticky tape is so useful chat it
is hard to imagine life without it. I have at least seven different
kinds around the house, and I buy 3M's Magic Mending Tape (#810) a
dozen rolls at a time.
As a person committed to the principles of conservation, however,
I feel obliged to use it responsibly whenever its use seems
inevitable. These are the principles I follow:
- Try to get out of using it if possible. Use any alternative
method that is equally quick and handy, and probably reversible,
e.g. commercially available roller dispensers of what appears to be
a cellulose ether.
- Use the best kind for the job, and replace it before it reaches
the end of its life span, especially if it is on the wall. If you
wait too long, the residue cam be softened with common oil and
scraped off, as long as the surface does not absorb oil.
- Use the narrowest tape you can get, 1/2". When you must use tape
on something that may have some future value, tear it in half
lengthwise. It will be plenty wide still.
- Use the shortest lengths you can get away with. When putting
something together that will be photocopied, very short lengths can
be used without causing shadows if the paper is laid down perfectly
flat, and a Kodak copier is used.
- Avoid putting tape over print or writing, especially ink from
pens or carbon copies, because it will probably bleed under the tape
in time and look awful.
- If you have to use tape in a book, use one that is paper based
with an acrylic adhesive; but prefer paste and paper.
I would like to emphasize that these are not conservation
practices for artifacts, but practical measures for my office.
Still, archives everywhere are filled with things that used to be in
office files; you never can tell. Besides, it is cheaper to follow
these principles than to use tape the way most people do in