Handling collections material
Please read and follow these guidelines so that the collection items you consult in the CRC remain in their current condition.
View our video guide to handling Collections Material.
- Do not remove any collection items from the Reading Room without staff permission. The only exceptions are microfilms and theses, which may be consulted in the Research Suite. CRC reference books may be consulted anywhere in the Main Library, but please return these to the designated re-shelving points on the sixth floor.
- Do not bring any of the following into the CRC: bags, coats, umbrellas, pens, food, drink, scissors, correction fluid, post-it notes, sellotape, knives, lighters, matches, chewing gum. Any such items must be left in the lockers provided.
- Safeguard any collection item(s) issued to you. Do not allow another reader to use your item(s). Return them to staff when you leave the CRC.
If you are in any doubt about the safest means to handle an item, please ask a member of staff. Please also report any concerns with the condition of items to the CRC invigilator.
Guidelines common to all types of material
- Your hands should be clean. The transfer of potentially damaging oils and acids compromises the long-term preservation of collection items. When handling photographic material, illuminated manuscripts or as advised by the invigilator, cotton gloves should be worn. Please avoid touching your hair and face when wearing gloves.
- Accidental damage is the main cause of deterioration to collection items and is largely avoidable if best practice handling methods are employed.
- Use both hands to carry an item, only carry what you can easily hold, and ask for help with heavy, bulky or fragile items.
- Be aware that jewellery can cause damage, for example long necklaces, rings and bracelets.
- The table used should be clean and free from any other collection items or clutter.
- Do not fold, lean on, mark, disassemble or damage any items.
- Pencil only must be used for taking notes.
- Use the conservation supports (cushion or foam rests) provided, and follow any special instructions given by the invigilator. The cushions/foam rests should be positioned so that they support both boards of the book and the natural shape of the spine.
- Open books with care to prevent cracking of the spine or binding. If a volume is bound too tightly for it to be viewed safely, return the volume to the invigilator. Please tell the invigilator if you discover that pages of the textblock have not been opened.
- Never force a book to stay open - use a ‘snake weight’ to loosely hold a page down if necessary.
- Do not leave a book open when it is no longer in use - use an acid-free bookmark if you need to keep your place.
- To turn pages, lift the top corner and slip your fingertip down the edge of the sheet, providing support to each page. Avoid areas of pre-existing damage and do not turn pages from the middle of the top, bottom or fore-edges as these are weak points in the leaf. Do not use saliva to wet your finger or use rubber finger guards.
- Do not stack volumes on top of one another.
Loose sheet material
- Do not disorder any loose material - alert the invigilator if anything appears to be damaged, missing or out of place.
- Care should be taken not to exacerbate any damage or areas of weakness. Turn pages carefully and return to the folder or box neatly.
- If loose sheets are held together with clips or archival tying tape, ensure that the divisions between sheets are maintained and replace clips and tape carefully. Tape should not be tied too tightly.
- Boxes should be held flat and excessive movement avoided as the contents may be dislodged or damaged.
Digital media and microforms
- Unique microfilm/digital copies should be handled with as much care as the original item they record. Take particular care when loading the item to the reader. Ensure that the microfilm/CD/DVD is returned to its packaging as it was issued to you.
Architectural plans (or other large paper-based flat items)
- Handle plans one at a time. Plans stored flat in sleeves should be carried holding opposite corners. Do not fold or crease the item and ensure that the item cannot fall out of the open edge of the sleeve. If the item is not in a sleeve, care should be taken not to exacerbate any tears or areas of weakness.
- Rolled plans should be carefully unrolled and weighted. The invigilator will assist you.
- Objects should be handled with care as many are heavy and/or fragile - ensure that you support the base adequately. Move the required item(s) to a clean and clear table to open storage boxes or unwrap preservation packaging. Gloves should be worn whenever possible and are essential when handling textile or silver items.
This article was published on Jul 1, 2013