Best Practices for Collection Preservation and Storage

January 30, 2019

Libraries have always been known as great community spaces to browse books, hear local authors speak or while away the hours getting lost in different stories. But libraries also house collections of priceless and rare items, such as books, papers, audio and video files, and documents with historical and cultural relevance.

But preserving and storing these items does take a good deal of work to keep their integrity intact. However, with the right care and system to capture, manage, preserve and make digital and physical materials accessible, libraries can continue the legacy of significant documents for the public. Here are some ways in which your materials can keep their integrity for years to come.

Care Tips for Handling Books

Even though digital archives and the advent of sophisticated technology has put a dent in the desire to handle physical books, there is always a place to preserve them for the public. Libraries, while offering online downloads of most books, are still places for people to come in and crack open an actual book in their hands. Taking care when handling any collection item, especially books, such as collector’s items and rare prints, is one of the more effective, cost-efficient and easy-to-do preservation measures. Think of this as a sort of library insurance, protecting what’s important to you by keeping the interest of others in mind.

Her are some ways to achieve this:

  • Use clean hands when handling books
  • Work in a clean space, free of food and drinks
  • Remove the book(s) from the shelf by holding both sides of the book spine at the middle of the book instead of tugging at the top like most people do
  • Don’t force a book to lie open to 180 degrees; try propping up the covers to limit the opening angle
  • Never dog ear or use paper clips for folding
  • Stay away from bookmarks as acidic inserts can adjust the integrity of the pages
  • When in doubt, do without; stay away from things like self-adhesive tape or rubber bands

Storing Books and Documents

Storing books, papers and documents is just as important as preservation tasks. Utilizing good storage tips will prolong the life of the materials as well as their usability, much like how library insurance can help to protect your library in the event of loss to files and inventory.

Here are some tips for storing books and documents:

  • Keep materials in a cool, dry place, usually at room temperature or slightly below, with relatively low humidity
  • The best location for these are in clean and stable environments, such as additional offices or extra rooms instead of basements or attics that are usually used
  • Keep materials away from radiators and vents and always minimize exposure to light
  • Shelve books and documents around others that are of similar size and shape
  • Always keep shelving and storage areas clean from dust

Digital Audio Files

The Library of Congress houses some of the rarest and most significant historical, social and cultural audio files known to our country. Early recordings of jazz music, interviews with politicians and soundscapes that were shot into space are all housed and available to listen to online. Local libraries are also getting into this system as well, housing audio files of regionally significant moments.

Keeping digital audio files safe for the long-term isn’t difficult if you use some easy steps, including:

  • Look into audio software programs to maximize best quality
  • Decide which files have long-term value for your library and community
  • Export the audio recordings to safe locations, like a Cloud system
  • Organize files by giving each a descriptive name, information relative to what’s in them, and create folders to store them
  • Make copies of your audio recordings (at least two) and keep files separate. For instance, have one on a computer and another on flash drives or Internet storage.

Having the right software and using care with documents and files will help these materials last longer and be preserved for years to come.

About Regan Agency

A family-owned business, Long Island-based Regan Agency has more than 35 years of experience serving the insurance and risk management needs of Tri-State residents and businesses. We have earned the trust of our clients based on our integrity and commitment to offer individuals and businesses quality library insurance products at competitive prices backed by unparalleled responsive service. Just give one of our professionals a call at 631-669-3434.