Preservation Staff Awareness Guide


PDF version of this guide is also available (129 KB).

The law library is committed to building and preserving a legal collection to support the teaching and research needs of the law school today and in the future.

In addition to the cost of the materials, considerable resources are spent preserving the collection.

Library materials are subject to damage from both natural and human enemies.

  • Natural enemies: Heat/fire, water, moisture, mold/mildew, light, pests, climate (temperature, humidity, etc.)
  • Human enemies: handling, food and drink, highlighting, writing, stick-on notes, paper clips, rubber bands, photocopy machines, mutilation

There are simple things that everyone can do to improve the chances of library materials having a long life.

  • Handling/shelving techniques http//
  • Photocopying/scanning
  • Avoid eating/drinking when using library materials
  • Refer damaged materials for proper repair
  • Avoid use of stick-on notes, paper clips, rubber bands, packing and scotch tape, etc.
  • Do not make notations in library materials
  • Keep stack areas, storage spaces and work areas neat, organized and free of dust
  • Use descriptive file names for computer files
  • Delete drafts of computer files and pick the final copy as a master to keep for later


  • Select format of materials best for expected use and longevity.
  • Bind decisions for print materials.
  • Weeding: check to make sure this is not the "last copy" of material¸ post rare materials to needs and offers list, consider when a rented digital surrogate is fine versus when owning a permanent copy is important.


  • How to open envelopes and boxes using box cutters, razor blades, knives to ensure materials are not cut.
  • Repackage microforms and audio visual materials
  • Correct application of spine labels, property stamps, tattle tape, barcodes


  • Include preservation in bibliographic instruction
  • Maintain awareness of issues related to licensed versus owned resources


  • When reshelving, be sure that books are properly supported so that they stand upright
  • Do not leave books on the floor, on edges of tables or hanging on a shelf where they may fall
  • Carefully replace books on the shelf; make room, loosening up the space first
  • Do not undertake mending yourself; refer to trained preservation staff
  • Ensure materials are not extending past shelf edges and are well-secured before moving compact shelving
  • Keep audio and video tapes away from desensitizing equipment
  • Check condition of materials when checking in or out and address problems before items are returned to the shelf
    • Stick-on note
    • Writing/highlighting
    • Loose and missing pages or covers
    • Broken binding
    • Red rot
    • Tears
    • Soil and stains
    • Mold damage
    • Yellowing
    • Water damage
    • Replace defective security targets
  • Photocopy/scanning techniques (to include preserving through digitization) - opening book, turning pages, pressure on book
  • Sleeve microfiche


  • Book and paper mending techniques
  • Use of tools and mending materials
  • Keep an inventory of important computer files owned by the library; can be at collection level
  • Keep an inventory and filing system for software tools owned by the library
  • Review discards of obsolete media equipment, and consider whether to retain in archives


  • Share disaster plan with staff
  • Update contact information as needed; everyone should know who to contact in case of an emergency


Check with your local and regional library consortia, and other national organizations and companies for free webinars and videos on preserving collections. Here are a few:

  • Gaylord
  • Demco
  • Booklist
  • Association for Library Collections and Technical Services (ALCTS)
  • Amigos
  • Lyrasis
  • Tessella