Unfortunately, sometimes expediency supersedes care when it comes to our filing habits. One need only look at the desktop screen of our computers and often you will find a cluttered mess of current and past projects littered throughout, a mess that we periodically must make sense of whenever it comes to time to review those projects and ask ourselves, “where did I put the rest of the files for this?” Working at a large institution, it is easy to get lost in the bureaucracy of administration, and while we may not be able to control all the minutia around us, we can take time to order our own spaces to the best of our abilities.

When records are transferred into offsite storage, files are removed from filing cabinets and stored in boxes. These boxes are cataloged and sent to our storage facilities where they reside until recalled to serve University staff and faculty. Files can exist in this state for years and as such are subject to the influences of time.

To ensure that these records are usable when they are recalled by University personnel, files should be stored in these boxes appropriately. The best outcome for storing files is that they fit close enough so they can support each other and do not allow for slouching. This kind of outcome is preferable but does not always work out. Sometimes there is an excess of space inside a box and files will slump and over time become warped. This kind of slow degradation contributes to a more and more unusable, damaged record.
Improperly packed records box.
The best ways to combat this preservation issue is to use filing folders which have creased segments at the bottom so they can be adjusted to accommodate different volumes of documents. The other is to fill the empty space with bracing. Archivists use special acid free segmented cardboard to support files stored in boxes with excess space, but this material can be costly for a department so in the interest of making record preservation economical we can use easily purchased corrugated cardboard from places like Amazon and WB Mason. The proper way to use cardboard bracing is to push all your folders to the front of the box. Then you take a section of cardboard and measure how much is needed fully support your files. Make a crease in the cardboard at each side spanning the width of the box. If there is any excess in the cardboard you can fold it again like it is shown in the image below to make a horseshoe. If you are in dire straits and do not have access to any of the previously listed options you can use bubble wrap to provide at least some support to the files although it is not the most ideal solution.
Properly packed records box.
With these listed solutions on a personal level we can take control and organize our spaces. And by employing simple caretaking steps we can ensure that our files are preserved and usable when we need them to be.