StaffGuide: Preservation

Preservation information and resources

We're All Involved

Everyone working in the Libraries plays a role in caring for our collections.

The proper care and handling of materials, like books, paper, photographs, or audiovisual/electronic media, keeps them in usable and accessible condition now and for the long term​.

Here are examples of ways some Libraries departments are involved in collections care.

Acquisitions: direct any purchased materials needing protection or support to preservation for evaluation

Physical processing: avoid the use of pressure-sensitive tapes or markers, direct damaged items to preservation for treatment

User Services: keep stacks clean and well maintained, shelve items appropriately, direct damaged items to preservation for treatment

Cataloging: update MARC records to indicate changes to an item (e.g., microfilmed), or create necessary metadata

Administration: provide support for staff and supply needs, be aware of building maintenance, endorse preservation policies

Special Collections: incorporate preservation principles into processing, collaborate with preservation on storage strategies

Interlibrary Loan: route damaged items to preservation for treatment

Branch Libraries: coordinate with preservation on schedule for commercial binding of periodicals


Enclosures protect materials from damage that may result from incorrect handling, the environment (temperature, relative humidity, light, pollutants), or inherent vice (fragile, already damaged, etc.). Clamshell boxes, phase boxes, four-flap enclosures, and Mylar covers are ways items are protected so they can be safely shelved.

Protective Enclosures

four-flap enclosures on book truck next to magazines with brittle and loose covers

Four-flap enclosures

Damaged and brittle magazines like these are best protected with an enclosure

Assortment of supplies used to create a four-flap enclosure

Four-flap inside a box

This small four-flap is attached to the inside of a clamshell box to prevent the four-flap from being lost, and for easier finding, while on the shelf

four-flap enclosure with mylar sleeves over detached covers

Mylar sleeves

Mylar sleeves over detached covers provide protection for the covers while in the four-flap

book trucks with clamshell boxes

Clamshell boxes

measurephase device


Used for measuring books so a clamshell box can be made or ordered in the correct size

custom envelope-style enclosures

Custom envelopes

Made with 10pt folder stock to house booklets

custom box for small violin; foam has indentations cut out so small parts are cushioned

Custom box

Made with acid-free board; foam insert has area cut in shape of items so they are cushioned while in storage

poster in custom folder that has small pockets for each corner


Custom folder protects the poster while it's on a shelf and facilitates safe handling

four compartments in this custom box, about 22

Custom box

The four compartments in this box slide out to provide easy access to the stored materials