Quaker A-Z: X is for Xerophilia


From the Greek xēros ‘dry’, and philos ‘loving’

This was a new word for me – I put out a prompt on Facebook asking for ideas for the clerk’s A-Z and Rhiannon Grant offered this lovely word for archives and record keeping.

So what is a xerophile?

A xerophile is an extreme organism that can exist and thrive without much water.

There are many ways that books and paper documents can be damaged by water –  and one of the ways is allowing organisms to live in them and cause damage. 

While there are scientists delightedly researching exactly which type of fungi and other organisms are able to live, and indeed prefer specific types of manuscripts and documents. You will need to go elsewhere to read about this field of study.

Instead, this blog post will merely give ways of ensuring you protect your documents, beyond the popular putting them in a cloth bag…

Ask an expert...

Friends House Library have a page offering advice on record keeping and archives – it’s well worth visiting and downloading their resources. But if you are merely considering the papers you keep at home during your period as a role holder the advice may feel excessive!

Taking Precautions

Digital Storage
Photo by Ilya Pavlov on Unsplash
Some top tips...

1) Keep the documents off the floor, as this limits the danger of a spill, or flood waters – but a spill seems more likely.

2) Use a waterproof container, and make it a habit to put the lid back on properly. Thus ensuring if there is a roof leak above it won’t matter as much.

3) Wherever possible digitise the paperwork. This can be as simple as using a smartphone with a camera to scan into your document storage. We’ve had clients who had a shared lunch followed by a chatting and scanning session.

4) Protect your computer and any storage medium, although not made of organic matter in the same way as paper they also prefer to be kept dry.


There we go – a xerophile –  perhaps a new one for many of us today!

Picture of Wendrie Heywood

Wendrie Heywood

MBS Founder

You might be interested in these MBS blog entries:

Guttering Day

Quaker A-Z: Zen


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