UCSD Stack Cleaning Procedures
When dustballs roll off the shelves toward you, it's time for spring
cleaning. Stack cleaning is a tedious but necessary part of library maintenance to protect
your collections. A clean environment is beneficial for users and staff, creating a more
inviting atmosphere in which to work, and helps to prevent infestation by fungus, insects
and other pests. A cleaning project is also an opportunity to thoroughly examine the
condition of the collection.
The collections of the UCSD Libraries are cleaned on a rotating
two year basis. The Preservation Department has available for loan vacuum cleaners
(Princess and HEPA dry vacuums), cotton rags, 50-100 foot extension cords and
Dust Bunnies. The library's preservation budget allocates money to cover
General Assistance expended on stack cleaning. Contact the Preservation Department for information about stack cleaning projects.
Procedures have been developed for optimal efficiency of cleaning with
minimal disturbance and damage to the collections. Coordinate with custodial staff to
vacuum carpeting in the stack area at the same time. Schedule workers with adequate break
times as the work is strenuous and dirty and have partners rotate duties during a shift.
Well-trained assistants will not only take care of the collection, but they can call
attention to serious damage or problems in the collection as they work through shelf by
- Equip a team of two assistants with a step stool, book truck, sufficient
clean cotton rags, a vacuum and two dust masks.
- On a clipboard, the assistants log the date, time and and their names. Begin at the call
number finished during the last shift.
- Working from the top shelf of a range down, one student removes books a few at a time,
and the other student takes and places these books, in order, on the book
truck.When moving volumes, be sure to support the remaining row of books with a hand or
bookend. Assistants should follow proper book handling
techniques, including those for oversized materials.
- Vacuum the shelf (including empty shelves), and wipe with a clean rag.
- While one student wipes, the other student can gently vacuum the top of the books. If
materials are flaking or fragile, rubberband a doubled cheesecloth over the brush and very
- Replace the books, in order, back on the shelf. Adjust properly with a bookend
comfortably snugged up to the end, making sure books are not scraping the next shelf up,
and that spines are flush with or within the front edge of the shelf..
- Move down to the next shelf. At the bottom of the section, remove and vacuum
under the bottom shelf. Change to a clean rag as necessary. Dust Bunny
cloths, used in Special Collections only, can be washed in warm water with
a mild detergent and reused. Shelves which need additional cleaning power
can be washed with a TSP solution. Be sure the shelf completely dries before
reshelving the books.
- Review the proper treatment of vacuum equipment (click for instructions) so as not to damage the machine or cords.
The vacuum hose is long enough to reach the top of the range from the floor
location. Also, leave the vacuum on while cleaning, do not turn the vacuum
on and off frequently. Turning the motor on for only a few minutes at a time
can cause serious damage.
- Monitor suction strength for filter changing. If the suction feels reduced
to 50% of normal, it is time to change the filter. Project supervisors must
oversee this process by hours of vacuum use and effectiveness (click for
- At the end of a shift, record the last call number, total sections cleaned,
and lenght of time of the shift on the clipboard. This record will aid the
supervisor in compiling statistics at the end of the project.
- While progressing through the stacks, trained assistants can be aware for problems such
as droppings that might signal the presence of rodents or insects, mold or dampness which
could indicate a humidity problem or leaky roof. Alert the supervisor right away if
serious damage is noticed. Moldy materials should not be moved; stop working and call the
project supervisor to contact the preservation librarian immediately! Care of the Library Collections handouts can be obtained from the
- Lock equipment up during the night. Upon completing the project, return
the equipment and supplies to the Preservation Department.
Damaged materials needing repair should not be pulled from
the stacks at this time, unless there is a serious problem that needs immediate attention.
Record its call number on a separate sheet of paper with a brief note on the condition or
Return to UCSD Preservation Guidelines.