Rule No. 1: Get It Off the Floor
Collections belong on shelves, in drawers, on walls, in display cabinets, etc. If you’re a collector and not a hoarder, then you probably really value the things you collect. You would want to show them off. In addition, elevating your stuff is a more optimal use of storage space and eliminates them from hazards like flooding.
Gettings your beloved collectables off the ground has the added benefit of removing them as a tripping hazard to yourself and potential visitors. This brings us to Rule No. 2
Rule No. 2: Always Have a Path
If you’re going to get into this business of collecting an exorbitant amount of physical objects, then you’re going to have to get seriously organized or you’re going to have a mess on your hands mighty fast. You need to start thinking about the spaces where you keep your stuff like warehouses, like libraries. What do they do at warehouses and libraries? They have tall shelves, sometimes that go all the way to the ceiling to maximize space. Not only that, they tend to have the added benefit of constant accessibility. Whether it’s a warehouse shelf that you can reach with a forklift or a bookshelf, they always leave them open on both sides so the items on either side can be accessed at any time. This brings us to Rule No. 3
Rule No. 3: Keep Things Organized
I’m always impressed when I ask a clerk at a store or a librarian where something is at their establishment and they tell me exactly where I can find it. Maybe I shouldn’t be impressed. Maybe I’m easily impressed. Maybe they’re just moderately competent at their job, butI appreciate that. It should be easy for them to recall an item though because: A)They’re very familiar with the environment and the things in that environment, and B)Things in their establishments are organized based on a series of rules and all you should have to do once break up your collection into a series of categories is put all the same kind of thing in the same place. This will make it easier should you ever have to seek one specific object.
Rule No. 4: Keep Things Clean/Maintain
I heard a story recently on NPR about how something like 70% of all the silent films ever made have been lost to the rigors of time. If a film does not have commercial value then it is never replicated, it’s never copied and transferred to the latest medium. So you had all of this film made of a degrading celluloid material that was lost due to improper storage, humidity, fires, etc. Now several film studios like MGM make a sordid effort to archive and make copies of films as new platforms are created, but many do not.
Of course, not everyone’s collections can be transferred to a new digital medium or something like that, but they can certainly be preserved with the right maintenance. If you’re storing books or boxes in a basement you need to make sure those are elevated in case there is ever flooding because water will ruin and damage any kind of paper or cardboard it touches. Precautions need to be made against things like light and dust. I remember at an old Blockbuster (dating myself) around the corner from my home they had a set of VHS (again) covers that faced out the window were significantly faded, bleached by the light of the sun. This is the reason that museums use specially tempered glass when they put certain pieces in cases. I recall being at the Smithsonian at Washington DC and seeing the Declaration of Independence and how dimly lit the room was and how thick the glass used to cover the exhibit was. No doubt, your valued items deserve similar due diligence.