Polyethylene Fiber Makeover

After much planning and consideration, I began my Tyvek project yesterday. All 98 volumes of Der Deutsche Correspondent that we hold are currently wrapped in brown craft paper. These newspapers will be sent to an outside vendor for digitization, so keeping them wrapped in a material that needs to be ripped in order to remove is just not practical. I am removing the craft paper from each book and wrapping them in Tyvek.

Tyvek is actually a registered trademark of DuPont. Tyvek is high-density polyethylene fibers, a synthetic material. Tyvek is very strong – it is difficult to tear but can be cut easily with scissors. It is a very breathable material as well as liquid-proof. You may have seen Tyvek wrapped around buildings and houses while under construction, used as car covers, envelopes, or CD/DVD sleeves. New Zealand even used this material for drivers license’s from 1986 to 1999. Bank notes have also been made using Tyvek.


I have set up a table in the storage area where the collection is held. It’s best not to move a collection from one place to another if you don’t have to. The more this collection moves, the more damage will be done. Armed with scissors, four rolls of Tyvek, blue painter’s tape (which is the best to hold the Tyvek together because it can be easily removed), a Ticonderoga pencil, and 66 pages of labels (four labels per bound volume), I will have these volumes ready for digitization in a few days.

Below is an example of an early volume that I found that is not bound. These loose editions are sandwiched between two mat boards and tied together with string. Not only does this makeover allow me to provide an acid-free environment for the newspaper, but it allows me to see each and every volume. This is important in order to relay my findings to the vendor that will be digitizing the collection.


  1. Kurt Pfund said:

    Very interesting photo… one can see exactly why digitizing these newspapers is so urgent!

  2. Kurt,

    Thanks for the comment! A majority of the older volumes look similar to the last photo. The good part is that most of the content is still in good shape. It’s mostly the edges that are torn and falling apart. Considering how many volumes we have, I’m sure we’ll get lots of great scans!


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