Today’s Wisdom Wednesday is about the evils of lamination.

When you’ve got a crumbling, fragile document that is precious to you and your family history, it can be very tempting to think that lamination will solve the problem.

Lamination is the process of placing a paper document between two sheets of plastic laminate (usually cellulose acetate) and using pressure and heat to fuse the adhesive in the plastic and the paper together. This process is not reversible.

Although lamination was popular in institutions 70 to 80 years ago, archivists, conservators, and other professionals never use the procedure today because it is not 100 percent reversible.

Laminating also leads to serious conservation problems, apart from the damage caused by the heat and the adhesive. Moisture can penetrate lamination and cause mold growth that will render the document unreadable. Lamination can make the deterioration caused by inherent vice worse. The laminate can leach gasses that harm materials stored nearby.

Because lamination is irreversible, there is no treatment measure that can help. The plastic coffin of lamination doesn’t prevent further deterioration. So please, please never laminate anything made of paper (photographs, letters, documents) that you care about.