An important part of preparing for cold storage is to complete a survey of all the film-based photographic materials in your collection. Be sure to look through every space that could possibly have any type of film-based material. Include slides, color and black and white negatives, motion picture films, aerial films, x-rays, microfilm and microfiche. (25SEC)
It is also important to make sure that all collections that are going into cold storage are at least accessioned into the museum collection. This will help you track them and maintain intellectual and physical control of these items as they're placed into cold storage. As you're going along, make sure that you document and inventory the items that you're intending to put into cold storage. This list will help you later on. As you perform a survey of your film-based collections, it is good to start thinking about how much cubic feet of storage space you will need to house your collection. It is important to consider how many and what types of archival boxes will be stored in each freezer.
The preparation process includes a survey, housing or re-housing the materials, and documentation. The survey will help you identify the type and volume of film-based materials in your collections, as well as the amount of space required for cold storage. Re-housing individual items, such as sheet films that are in older or acidic enclosures, is very time consuming. Therefore, it is better to place the items in cold storage rather than spend time re-housing. This is acceptable practice under the circumstances because the cold storage environment will also slow other deterioration processes that may occur in acidic materials. However, you should consider replacing the outer container that holds either a group of items or one item (i.e. film can) if the container is not structurally stable and/or is rusting (i.e. cans or metal edges on boxes).
Before film-based materials can be properly packed for cold storage, they must be well documented. At minimum, the documentation should include an inventory of the items in each box or can. The level of detail in the inventory will be at your discretion; however, be sure to include enough information to enable you to efficiently access the materials in the future. Good preparation of your materials will facilitate both physical and intellectual control of your valuable collections.