Advice to Composers from Jeannie Pool, Ph.D:
You should know that the scores and parts from the 1930s printed on high-quality vellum paper with superior ink will survive hundreds of years into the future (if properly stored), but the laser printed scores and parts created since the 1980s will not.
Paper and ink today are generally of such poor quality that images from the mid-1980s are already deteriorating, even when stored in acid-free boxes. Drying laser printer ink means that, when you hold up an orchestral score from 20 years ago, the notes literally fall off the page.
It’s a good thing that the movie studios microfilmed scores in the 1980s as a safety copy!
What does this mean for composers?
You should investigate several ways to preserve your most important scores for the future:
• scan them digitally;
• use the highest quality paper you can afford for your final print-outs;
• send copies to friends/family members or libraries in places that do not tend to have devastating fires and earthquakes.