Preservation of collections is a means of providing continuing access to items in the
libraries for as long as they are needed. To maintain this access, library staff at all
levels must take responsibility for proper handling of library materials. Proper handling
techniques and well-ordered library stacks serve as a positive example for library users.
All library staff, including student employees, should follow these guidelines and assist
in the preservation of the UCSD Libraries' collections.
- Do not eat or drink while working with library materials. Food attracts pests, and
spills cause permanent stains. If necessary, remind patrons who are eating or drinking of our current food
and drink policy.
- Refer items in need of repair to trained repair staff who will use proper techniques and
supplies. Do not make repairs yourself. Minor repair problems can become major ones if
neglected too long.
- When photocopying books, take care not to wrinkle pages. If a book is bound
so that it resists being pressed flat, do not force it--settle for a less
than perfect copy or use a copier that allows for draping the book over the
edge of the copying surface.
- Do not use Post-it Notes® and metal paper clips in library materials. These
items can be permanently damaging, leaving stains or tearing pages. Limit
the use of rubber bands, preferring instead to tie fragile materials with
cotton tape. Remove damaging items before shelving materials.
- Use a paper bookmark to mark your place. Do not turn down the corners of
Proper Handling Techniques
- Open new books carefully. Forcing the covers back can break a book's spine, especially
if it is tightly bound.
- Apply date due slips and bar codes and add technical processing notes neatly and in the
designated places on materials. Limit markings to those that are necessary.
- Use booktrucks for sorting and transporting library materials whenever possible.
Crates and bins do not provide proper support for materials. Clear bookdrops,
tables, and unload boxes directly onto booktrucks or shelving. Do not leave
library materials stacked in piles on desks or on the floor.
- Place books on booktrucks and shelving in an upright position with no other
materials stacked on top. If a shelf is only partially full, keep books supported
vertically. Lay large volumes flat on the shelf. Do not place books on their
fore-edges, even for a short time. This will weaken the binding.
- Properly balance distribution of items on booktrucks and do not overload.
This will make the truck easier to maneuver and prevent it from tipping over.
Proper Shelving Techniques
- Shelve books vertically, supported by a bookend. Neither overcrowd nor loosely
shelve books. Be careful not to accidentally "knife" the pages of
a book with the edge of a bookend. Do not shelve books on their fore-edges.
This can cause the textblock to loosen from its case. Follow departmental
procedures for referring items which cannot be shelved properly because of
- Properly remove a book from the shelf by pushing volumes on either side back just far
enough to grasp the one you need in the middle of its spine. Do not simply pull on the top
of the spine as this will cause a weakening and eventual damage to the spine.
- Remove any trash, loose books, or extra bookends from the shelves.
- When assisting library users, take the opportunity to educate them on correct handling
of library materials as outlined above.
- Watch for signs of mold and mildew or pest infestations. Refer affected materials to
bindery and repair staff. Report pest problems to the preservation librarian.
- Be aware of environmental conditions. Immediately report to a supervisor or the
preservation librarian noticeable changes such as high heat, humidity, low air flow, or
sunlight hitting library materials.
- Watch for theft or mutilation of library materials and any instances of unauthorized
access. Report incident immediately to the circulation supervisor or security guard.
- Immediately report signs of any potential disaster situations, such as dripping or
standing water, overloaded electrical outlets, or blocked emergency exits.
Your assistance in implementing these guidelines is critical to the care of the
collections and the UCSD Libraries Preservation Program.
(Note: This handout is given to all new library employees. Copies
may be obtained through the Preservation Department.)
Return to Preservation Guidelines.