Preservation Issues

Part of maintaining the general collection is knowing how to physically handle the materials. Each year the Libraries spend approximately $4000 – $4500 of their budget just on replacement costs alone – this does not include the cost of staff time taken to order, catalog or shelve the items.

Items can be damaged in many ways, intentionally or unintentionally. When items are damaged and have to be pulled from the stacks, this keeps other users from the information that they need. Since the Libraries are committed to making the collection as accessible as possible to patrons, preventative measures for the preservation of the collection need to be followed.

Some tips:

Avoid piling books too high.

  • Tall piles can lead to spills and may subject bottom books to pressure and abrasion.
  • Fragile items should be on top of piles or in a separate pile.
  • Never stack books on the floor.

Carry only a few books in your arms at any one time.

  • This creates less strain on the books, as well as the person carrying the books.

Removing books from a shelf:

  • Gently push back the books on either side of the book that is needed.
  • Get a firm grip on the front and back of the cover on either side of the spine (about half way down the spine of the book)
  • Remove the book from the shelf
  • *Pulling a book by the headcap can tear the top of the spine.

If a book is too tall to stand upright on a shelf, lie it down on its spine.

  • Shelving a book with the fore-edge down creates a great strain on the spine of the book and causes damage in a short amount of time – especially for heavier or thicker books.

When marking your place in a book:

  • Please do not bend the corners (“dog-earring”) – this damages the pages
  • Please do not use pens, pencils, highlighters, etc. – closing the book with these items in it can break the spine; also these items tend to leave marks or stains on the paper.

Please remove the following before returning your items:

  • Paper clips (these can stain and tear the paper)
  • Slips of paper (acid and deterioration transfers to surrounding papers)
  • Rubber bands (can bend or tear papers; when deteriorating it leaves a harmful residue)
  • Post-its (residue from adhesives is left on the paper; can rip paper upon removal)

    These problems can be avoided by using a regular paper bookmark – usually available at any bookstore and many times in a library.