Film–whether motion picture film, cut sheet film, microfilm, (either microform or microfiche), and amateur film – is generally at great risk in most collections. These four kinds of film come in three major materials: nitrate, acetate and polyester. Of these three, most attention will be paid to acetate because it is fragile and common. In contrast, the earliest of these materials, nitrate, while fragile and flammable, is relatively rare. The most recently developed material of film, polyester, though common, is a very stable material and requires less attention.
The four major steps to film preservation are locate the film, identify its material, assess its condition, and choose a preservation storage method based on best practices for condition of film and institutional feasibility. Unfortunately, none of these is easy.