Caring for the Library's Collection

Library materials are available for use by all students, faculty and staff. It is important that you be aware that there are certain ways that you can use these materials that will significantly prolong their shelf life. Following is a list of things to remember when handling library materials.

  • Handle books with clean hands. Fingerprints are often indelible.
  • A non-damaging way to remove a book from the shelf is to push back slightly the volumes on either side and grasp the desired book at mid-spine. Alternately, place an index finger firmly on the head of the text block and tip the book out. Yanking at the top of the binding eventually ruins the spine covering.
  • Do not turn down the corners of pages to mark your place. The creases will be permanent and, if the paper is brittle, the corner will break away with one fold. Laying a book face down to mark your place weakens the binding and can soil pages. The best way to mark your place is with a slip of paper.
  • When photocopying book pages, take care not to wrinkle or crumple pages. If a book is bound so that it resists being pressed flat, don't force it - settle for a less than perfect image of the page you are copying.
  • Don't eat or drink while reading library materials. Food attracts paper-eating insects, and spills cause permanent stains as well as encouraging the growth of mildew.
  • Bring damaged materials to the attention of the Main Desk staff so they can be forwarded to the Conservation Office for treatment. Minor repair problems can become major ones if they are neglected too long. Do not attempt any repair yourself. The repair of library materials requires skill and training. Well meant but ill-advised repairs often do more harm than good.
  • Take notes on a separate sheet of paper. Do not underline or write in library materials.
  • Handle microforms by the edges, as you would a photograph. Remember that damages which are invisible or insignificant to the naked eye may become a major problem when the text is enlarged for reading. Smudges and scratches obliterate images, destroying information.

Note: If you find any library book or periodical that is damaged or has missing pages, or is located in a special location, such as the Reference collection or Periodical Room, bring it to the attention of the Main Desk staff.