Friday, May 2, 2014

Preservation Week: Handling Materials

During Preservation Week libraries all over the country present events, activities, and resources that highlight what we can do, individually and together, to preserve our personal and shared collections.

Preservation Tip:
General Handling:
One of the simplest tips to help preserve paper and other materials is to wash your hands before handling them, and to take special care when you do open or move them around. Avoid using excess stress to open books, and don’t “crack the spine.” When you move books, don’t slide them on a table, pick them up instead. Delicate pieces of paper can be placed in folders or on top of sturdier paper to support them when lifted. Keep food and drink away from these items.

For more information check out the Northeast Document Conservation Center at

Why is preservation important?
In 2005 the first comprehensive national survey of the condition and preservation needs of the nation’s collections reported that U.S. institutions hold more than 4.8 billion items. Libraries alone hold 3 billion items (63 percent of the whole). A treasure trove of uncounted additional items is held by individuals, families, and communities.
Some 630 million items in collecting institutions require immediate attention and care. Eighty percent of these institutions have no paid staff assigned responsibility for collections care; 22 percent have no collections care personnel at all. Some 2.6 billion items are not protected by an emergency plan. As natural disasters of recent years have taught us, these resources are in jeopardy should a disaster strike. Personal, family, and community collections are equally at risk.
Key environmental factors that place collections at risk:
  • Light: Ultraviolet rays from natural and artificial sources can cause fading and disintegration.
  • Pollutants: Dust is abrasive and can accelerate harmful chemical reactions.
  • Heat: High temperatures can accelerate deterioration.
  • Moisture: High humidity promotes mold growth, corrosion, and degradation, while excessive dryness can cause drying and cracking. Fluctuations between extremes can cause warping, buckling and flaking.
Key items that should be preserved include historical materials that are unpublished and one-of-a-kind, such as:
·         architectural drawings
   ·         artifacts
·         audio and video recordings
·         diaries
·         genealogical information
·         letters
·         maps
·         memoirs/reminiscences
·         minutes/reports
·         photo albums and photographs
·         printed materials
·         professional and business papers
·         speeches/lectures

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