How Can Staff Help Preserve Library Materials?


Keep food and drink away from library materials and dispose of food trash in the staff room. Food and food trash attract insects and rodents that feed on library materials. Spills also cause damage.
Photocopy and scan books with care. Forcing them to lie flat can damage the binding. Use one of the Library's book edge copiers when needed.

Shelving books spine up (on the fore-edge) eventually causes damage

Distortion of a binding due to fore-edge shelving

Damage that can occur from fore-edge shelving

Shelving tall books spine down prevents damage

Flat shelving is best for oversize volumes
Do not shelve books with the spine facing up. The weight of the text block eventually makes it pull away from the cover. If a book is too tall for its shelf, lay it flat, shelve it spine down, or adjust the shelf height so that it doesn't get crushed.

Use bookends to keep books standing upright on the shelves, not leaning. If books remain leaning for a period of time, the binding becomes permanently distorted.

Pulling a book by the headcap can tear the cover

The book on the left has headcap damage

Push the other volumes back slightly then grasp the one you want by the middle
Remove a book from the shelf by pushing back the one on each side and grasping the needed one by the middle, rather than by pulling from the top of the spine. The cloth or leather at the top of the spine is not that strong, and repeated pulling from the top of the spine eventually causes damage.
Do not put library materials on the floor-raise them at least six inches off the floor. Floods happen!
Bring wet books to Preservation immediately where they can be dried under controlled conditions to avoid mold growth, distortion, and permanent sticking together of the pages.
Avoid book truck accidents by not overloading them, and by balancing the load. Use a bookend if a book truck shelf is less than full, or lay a few books flat at the end of a row.
Do not try to carry too many books at a time, or try to remove too many at once from a shelf.
Remove paper clips, post-it notes, and other damaging items from returned books.
Empty book drops often, and minimize the use of book drops if possible. In a book drop, the books can land in an open position, and then are damaged as other returned books pile on top of them.

Thank you for your efforts to help preserve the Library's collections. Click here for additional information on proper handling and storage of a variety of library materials. Please contact me for further information on preservation issues.

Head, Preservation Department
University of Delaware Library

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Last modified: March 16, 2009