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University of Connecticut University Libraries

Care Handling

Care for the Libraries’ Collections: Guidelines for Staff

  • Handle books with clean hands.
  • Handle microfilm, phonographic records, and CDs by the edges, as you would a photograph. Smudges and scratches obliterate images, destroying information. Fingerprints can cause chemical changes in plastics, altering the surface of disks and the sound they produce.
  • Do not attach metal paper clips to book pages. They crimp and tear paper, and leave rust stains.
  • Scotch tapes and post-it notes leave damaging adhesive residues. If not removed, they can discolor paper and cause deterioration. If removed, they tear and damage paper and obliterate information.
  • Use flags or scrap paper for noting processing instructions. Use pencil for instructions—most inks bleed and stain.
  • Use cotton string to hold together damaged books or piles of materials. Elastic bands can dent covers and cause paper to tear and crumble. As they deteriorate, elastics give off damaging sulfur compounds.
  • Books too tall to shelve upright should be shelved spine down—not on their fore edge. Fore edge shelving is extremely wearing on bookbindings as it stresses the weakest part, the hinge, and also damages the pages.
  • Shelve books so they are fully supported and yet easy to remove. Tightly packed books are difficult to use and will be damaged as they are pulled from shelves.
  • Handle volumes with extra care when photocopying. The mechanical strain of forcing a text flat open is always damaging to the book structure; and the pages are easily torn in the process.
  • When you discover moldy or wet material call Preservation immediately (6-5782 or 6-2597). If Preservation staff are not available, leave a message and place material in a plastic bag. Wash your hands carefully with soap afterwards.
  • Remember that food and drink cause permanent stains and damage to library materials. They also attract insects and vermin, which can only be treated with toxic chemicals.