How to preserve Fragile Maps

The first question that comes to our minds is, can we scan fragile maps? The answer is simply yes!

Yes, you can scan fragile maps, but they require special handling and equipment to ensure no damage occurs during the scanning process. Here are some considerations for scanning fragile maps:

Use of Specialized Scanners

Scanners with large surfaces accommodate the entire map in a single pass, minimizing handling. ABTec offers a wide range of flatbed, V-shaped, and wide-format scanners to convert all types, qualities, and quantities of maps from Image Access. Image Access is the only scanner manufacturer offering products in all large format segments:

  • Overhead scanners for valuable books larger than A1 in size
  • Flatbed scanners for formats greater than DIN A3 / 12.5×18.5 inches
  • Sheet feed scanners for documents between 36, 48, and 60 inches in width
  • Fine art scanners for non-contact overhead scanning of 36-inch and 60-inch wide artwork

The widest range of scanners from Image Access covers books, maps, drawings, artworks, magazines, manuscripts, and much more.

Image Access Scanners Range for fragile maps

The Widest Range of Scanners from Image Access for Books, Maps, Drawings, Artworks, Magazines, Manuscripts and much more

Use of Large Document Carrier

Transparent Carrier for fragile maps

WideTEK A0 Transparent Document Carrier

WideTEK scanners achieve the best scan quality at the highest speed. However, you can configure them to reduce speed, if required, to scan fragile, valuable documents. Moreover, you can benefit from the WideTEK scanner’s speed by protecting delicate, valuable documents as well as crumbled, torn, or partially destroyed documents with the transparent document carrier. Available options include:

  • A0-ENVELOPE: ISO/DINA0, 49“ x 37“, ANSI-E and ARCH-E
  • A1-ENVELOPE: ISO/DINA1, 37“ x 26“, ANSI-D and ARCH-D

Careful Handling

Scan Process of fragile maps and torn documents

WideTEK Transparent Document Carrier scanning steps

Handle fragile maps carefully to prevent tears or further deterioration.


Prepare the map properly, including cleaning and flattening it without causing damage, before scanning.


Professionals experienced in handling and scanning delicate historical documents should perform the task.

By taking these precautions, you can digitize even the most delicate maps, preserving their information for future generations.

What are some methods for preserving fragile maps?

Preserving fragile maps is essential to maintain their integrity and historical value. Here are some methods for preserving fragile maps:

  • Safe Handling: Always handle maps on a clean, flat surface and lift them from two opposite corners to avoid sagging. If the map is too large or fragile, use a rigid backing board to move it.
  • Enclosures: Use primary enclosures like folders made of heavier weight stock or polyester film to provide adequate support. Group documents by size and limit the number in each enclosure.
  • Flat Storage: Store small collections in flat, drop-front storage boxes and avoid stacking boxes too high. Large collections, like oversized maps, are best stored in metal flat files with like-sized items together.
  • Rolled Storage: For documents that are difficult to flatten or for saving space, rolled storage is an option. Use buffered tubes for rolling, except for blueprints which require unbuffered storage. Interleave with tissue paper and store horizontally.
  • Use of Archival Materials: Ensure that storage furniture like map cases and flat file cabinets are made of chemically stable materials. Metal cases with solvent-free powder coatings or anodized aluminum are recommended over wooden ones.
  • Barrier Protection: If using wooden storage, line the drawers with barrier materials like polyester film or 100% rag-board to protect against harmful gases emitted by the wood.
  • Professional Conservation: If a map has been rolled for a long time and is brittle, consult a conservator who can safely flatten the item without causing damage.

These methods help ensure that fragile maps are preserved for future generations to study and appreciate.

Contact ABTec Solutions today on Toll Free (800) 775.8993 or reach out and fill the form and we will contact you as soon as possible.