How to store hundreds of magazines?
December 19, 2012 7:45 AM   Subscribe

We've got too many magazines -- how to store them for collecting purposes, but also keep them accessible for reading and research?

Wifey and I collect a lot of paper stuff, and we're amassing a large number of old magazines, ranging from early 20th century stuff to modern glossy magazines. Problem is, we're pretty much just storing them flat in totes or boxes, which doesn't it very easy to review them, and they're not organized very well. Of course, in a perfect world we'd want acid-free museum-quality storage boxes, but our budget doesn't really afford such elegance. Libraries don't seem to keep many magazines anymore, but when they did they I seem to remember that had magazine files like this, which also seem to "squish" the bottom loose corners of the magazines (which is undesirable), but look like the best option for the cheap-and-effective intersection. I know there's plenty of librarians around MeFi: what's the most effective way to store a large number of magazines, while leaving them available for reading, without requiring a huge budget?
posted by AzraelBrown to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (14 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
$11.99? Holy cripes. They sell them at Ikea for, like, a tenth of that.
posted by Madamina at 7:47 AM on December 19, 2012 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Sorry, that was just a quick grab for the picture, not the price; I found them as cheap at $0.60 a piece, but quality is questionable at that price point too.
posted by AzraelBrown at 7:50 AM on December 19, 2012

I know there's plenty of librarians around MeFi: what's the most effective way to store a large number of magazines, while leaving them available for reading, without requiring a huge budget?

I think the problem you'll run into is that the most effective methods of library storage (bound volumes, microfilm) are well suited for research (where information access is the key), but badly suited for collecting style preservation (where condition is key).
posted by Jahaza at 7:54 AM on December 19, 2012

Those are pretty much the thing if you have a large number and want to keep them accessible. You can also get them in plastic or metal.

If you simply want organization and don't care about mangling them, you can go with hanging file cabinet storage (I do this with my crochet magazines, but there's no hope of keeping those pristine.)
posted by asperity at 7:56 AM on December 19, 2012

Best answer: I should also add that the key to keeping the file boxes from doing too much damage is not to overfill the boxes (but also not underfill, as that gives them room to slouch. You can use cardboard or styrofoam blocks to take up extra space.)
posted by asperity at 7:58 AM on December 19, 2012

I would look at Banker boxes-- they're designed to be filled with file-folders (letter or legal, or, I presume, A4 and such sizles) for archival purposes. Buy them from office- or business-supply stores.

The more sophisticated ones have metal frames made from rods that let you put the whole file-hanger (with file folders) in there. Some are just a basic cardboard box with a lid, while others create a long box and a "drawer" to go into that box-- so if you had a stack of them you wouldn't unstack them to access the bottom one, you just pull out the drawer. I think that would be a good way for bulk storage of magazines; you may want to hang each magazine in its own acid-free file-folder, or something similar.
posted by Sunburnt at 8:00 AM on December 19, 2012

Quirky option.
posted by travelwithcats at 8:15 AM on December 19, 2012 [2 favorites]

Best answer: I'm a serials librarian.

Magazine files (we call them Princeton files) will be your cheapest and best option. Like noted above, the trick is to not overfill or underfill. If there are just the right number of magazines in the box, the corners will be fine. Also, protip: lay the file box down on its side when you fill it; the magazines will lie flat as they are put in, and no corners will be crushed. This will also allow maximum filling without overfilling.

Your only other good option is binding. There are a lot of binderies around that will do a binding order for you, and will give you different color covers, lettering colored and spaced just so, etc. so that your titles are distinct from each other and everything is nice and neat. This is of course a much more expensive option, but if you really care about your magazines and want to keep them forever for both display and actual use, it needs to be on the table. Maybe you two can give each other binding for Christmas or something.
posted by rabbitrabbit at 8:32 AM on December 19, 2012 [5 favorites]

If the usual magazine boxes just don't appeal, how about hanging them, spine-up, on hanging file folders in a lateral file. One folder can hang two magazines, one on each side. This will keep them tidy, organized, and in good shape.

Honestly, though, I'd personally rather store magazines in the archives of my local public library, but that isn't really the question you asked.
posted by seanmpuckett at 8:32 AM on December 19, 2012 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Magazine drawer boxes or just plain magazine-sized boxes would work. I'd probably buy magazine bags while you're at it. A comic book shop should have the bags, and they might be able to get plain magazine boxes (not many carry the drawers in magazine size).
posted by MegoSteve at 8:46 AM on December 19, 2012

If you're going to use a hanging file system, which would not be anywhere close to the most archivally correct solution but is mentioned frequently above, use box bottom folders.
posted by carmicha at 8:50 AM on December 19, 2012

I would urge you to scan them onto disks or into the cloud, where you can see them and enjoy them.

Any idea on how to do this efficiently and easily? Scanning magazines (especially ones with perfect binding) is very difficult and tedious, and using the cheap program included with scanners leads to huge PDFs or images that are hard to browse and organize.
posted by ALongDecember at 8:53 AM on December 19, 2012

Response by poster: ALongDecember: Any idea on how to [scan images] efficiently and easily?

Actually, this is what I do for a living, and is somewhat a Step #2 after getting organized. However I'm not interested in getting C&D letters from everyone who ever had a story published in Argosy, so I won't be converting everything lock-stock-and-barrel into PDFs and uploading them to the internet, sorry. Planetary camera/enlarging stand is the least destructive, a papercutter and a DR7550C is more efficient.
posted by AzraelBrown at 9:54 AM on December 19, 2012 [1 favorite]

Go to a local comic book store and see what sort of magazine size boxes they have.
posted by Billiken at 10:32 AM on December 19, 2012

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