Guidelines and Tips

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Book Repair

  • Repairing the Spine of a Book
  • Tipping-in loose pages
  • Restoring a book:
    Search for a local bookbinder using a search engine or recommendations from a local library, museum, or archive. If you locate a bookbinder through an internet search, we recommend requesting references before leaving your book with them.

Damaging Practices

Climate Control

Several publications provide an introduction to the environmental needs of libraries, museums, and archives:

Displays and Storage


Plastic Containers and other storage options

  • Plastic containers are an acceptable solution if you can guarantee that the book(s) and storage environment are (and will remain) dry. Be aware that if this cannot be guaranteed mold growth is a serious concern because plastic containers restrict air circulation.
  • Your choice of plastic is also important; be sure to use containers made of plastics that are not going to harm the materials. These include polyethylene (PE), Polypropylene (PP), Polystyrene (PS), or Polyester (Polyethylene terephthalate) (PET). The American Chemistry Council maintains a Plastic Packaging Resins chart that notes plastic type by the recycling code stamped on many plastic materials. PVC (#3) and Other (#7) should be avoided for collection storage.
  • The environmental conditions of the storage area are just as important as the container for the item. Avoid storing books in unstable environments such as attics and basements. The ideal storage environment, be it a storage facility or your workplace/home, is a climate controlled with a relative humidity of 50% or lower and a temperature of about 68 degrees.
  • Also take a look at the Protecting Your Family Treasures Everyday mentioned above.

Archival Materials for all types of items

  • Several organizations maintain up-to-date lists and databases of conservation suppliers and service suppliers:
    • Suppliers List (Northeast Document Conservation Center (NEDCC))
    • Conservation Suppliers (Conservation Online (CoOL))
    • Preservation Services and Supplies Database (LYRASIS)
    • Supplies and Services Directory (Guild of Book Workers)

Locating a Conservator in your area

  • A free referral service is maintained by the American Institute for Conservation. You may select the type of conservation service you need, identify your geographical area, and receive a list of local conservators.
  • For further information, see the publication Choosing and Working with a Conservator from the Northeast Document Conservation Center (NEDCC).

Locating an Appraiser in your area

  • You can find a professional appraiser through the Antiquarian Booksellers' Association of America. Their website features a Collector's Corner, advanced book searching capabilities, and a membership directory of appraisers indexed by subject and geographical area.
  • To obtain an informal appraisal of your books, search the International League of Antiquarian Booksellers website. It also contains information about the rare book market, book fairs, and other related events.
  • Auction catalogs are another indispensable resource for informal appraisals.
  • A list of resources can be found at the Smithsonian Institute website. It includes a bibliography, professional contacts, and suggestions for selling valuable objects.
  • It may also be helpful to check with universities, libraries and museums in your area for workshops, conferences, and other events connected with rare books.


Preservation Grants


Northwestern University Library's Preservation Department
The policies and practices of this department are detailed at this website. Other libraries might find it useful to compare what they are doing with what Northwestern is doing in the areas of conservation, selector review, environmental monitoring, integrated pest management, disaster planning and recovery, digitization, Google Books, and education outreach.