StaffGuide: Preservation

Preservation information and resources

General Care and Handling

All users can help prolong the life of the Libraries' collections:

  • Have clean hands
  • Protect items from water, sunlight, heat, high humidity, smoke, tobacco products, and pets
  • If you damage an item, don't attempt to repair it with glue or tape
  • Mark your place with a bookmark, not a dog-eared page, Post-it, paper clip, or other objects / food
  • Make your notes on a separate piece of paper, and don't highlight, underline, or annotate pages
  • Keep books away from food and drink

The Library of Congress has additional care, handling, and storage information.

images of different ways to be kind to books

The Many Stations of Book Preservation by the BYU Libraries demonstrates proper care and handling.

Gloves: Yes or No?

When handling paper-based collections, routinely washing and drying hands is the recommended way of preventing the spread of any dust or dirt that may be present on the items being handled. Cotton gloves are commonly associated with handling rare and fragile materials, but using them poses risks to paper:

  • Fabric can pick up/absorb dirt and transfer to another item
  • Glove can catch on brittle paper or leather
  • Glove can absorb sweat from hands, increasing the potential for the glove to absorb and attract dirt

See Misperceptions about White Gloves (pg. 4) and White Gloves Debate for more information and resources.

When handling unsleeved photographs and/or negatives, gloves should be worn (nitrile gloves if available, or cotton).