|Care and Handling of Library Books
Books are meant to be used, and even with the most careful handling they will eventually wear out. Poor handling, however, can greatly shorten the life of a book. Older books are especially vulnerable because rough handling does greater damage that cannot be easily repaired.
Here are some ways you can help to preserve library books so that they will remain available to everyone in the future.
- Make sure your hands are clean when you use books. Oily fingerprints leave a stain and attract additional dirt.
- While avoiding eating, drinking, and smoking around books is always the best approach it may not always be possible. When eating, drinking and smoking around books, please be careful as you handle library books as well as your own books. Spills almost always leave a permanent stain.
- Use a slip of paper as a bookmark rather than a paper clip or sticky note. Paper clips leave rust stains, and sticky notes can leave a residue or pull the lettering off the page when they are removed.
- If a book will not open flat, avoid forcing it, especially when photocopying. This can ruin the materials that hold the book together, requiring expensive repairs.
- Shelve books upright. If a tall book will not fit upright on a shelf, shelve it with the spine down against the shelf. Shelving with the spine pointed up puts heavy stress on the weakest parts of the book.
- Keep books in heated or air-conditioned spaces. Uncontrolled temperatures and humidity may cause mold outbreaks. Once present, mold can seldom be completely removed.
- Keep books away from direct or strong light to prevent discoloration.
Additional links of interest:
1) Caring For Your Books - by the American Institute for
Conservation (AIC) of Historic & Artistic Works hosted by
2) How To Care For Books - from the Canadian Conservation
3) Handling Books in General Collection - from the
Southeastern Library Network (SOLINET)