University Archives

BOOKS Rare books should be cared for by a professional conservator.


Documents do not need to be cleaned, however dipping them into fungicide to control mould is recommended. 9)Archives & Library Disaster Plan

Documents should be wrapped in freezer or waxed paper (waxed side out) and packed carefully in plastic crates. Do not overstock the boxes, however, ensure that items will not fall over and become contorted.

Do not wrap books completely.

Pack items in the condition in which they were found. Do not attempt to close open books or open books that are wet. If the books are open, wrap and place on the top of the crates. Closed books should be packed spine down before freezing to avoid wrinkling. 10)Archives & Library Disaster Plan

If books are stuck together, do not attempt to separate them, but pack them as one volume.


Do not wash open or swollen books, vellum or parchment bindings or pages, leather bindings, or brittle books.

Keep the book tightly closed and hold it under a stream of clean water or immerse it  in a series of tubs with clean water. 11)Archives & Library Disaster Plan

Remove as much mud as possible from the binding by dabbing gently with a sponge. 12)Archives & Library Disaster Plan

Do not rub, brush, or sponge the pages or edges. This could cause the mud to in filtrate the fibre. 13)Archives & Library Disaster Plan

Squeeze the book gently with even pressure to remove excess water and to reshape the binding.


Do not open wet books! Wet paper tears easily. Maintain the book in the position it was found.

If books are dripping wet, remove the excess water by gently squeezing them. 14)Archives & Library Disaster Plan

Place books on their heads on absorbent paper and reverse their position each time the paper is changed.

Do not stack wet books, as this could lead to further damage and distortion.

When most of the water has been drained, proceed to section on "Damp books".


Very carefully interleave sheets at 25 page intervals to speed the drying process.

Sheets should be dry, clean, unprinted, and ideally acid-free. 15)Archives & Library Disaster Plan

Sheets should be slightly larger than book pages and be inserted into the gutter margin. 16)Archives & Library Disaster Plan

The interleaves should not exceed 1/3 of the total pages, in order to avoid physical distortion of the book's structure. 17)Archives & Library Disaster Plan

Interleaving should be changed approximately every 2 hours with the new sheets  placed in different locations. 18)Archives & Library Disaster Plan

Small books may be hung to dry on fishing line. The fishing line segments should be 6 feet long and strung approximately 1/2 inch apart. Three lines will be needed for books more than 1.5 inches thick. Remember not to underestimate the weight of wet books or the line will cut through the book! 19)Archives & Library Disaster Plan


These items should be stood upright for drying and fanned slightly.

Re-fan every 2 hours if possible.

When books are almost dry, lay them flat under plastic sheets and place light weights on the sheets in order to return them to their original shape.


Although book covers take longer to dry than pages, do not remove them.

Insert a barrier of aluminum foil or plastic sheeting between the cover and text. 20)Archives & Library Disaster Plan

Books with leather covers need special attention to avoid distortion. It is best to freeze these items and allow them to be treated by a conservator at a later date. 21)Archives & Library Disaster Plan

Dirty book covers can be vacuumed utilizing a screen placed between the book and brush. Covers can also be brushed with an electrostatically charged dustcloth, by holding the book spine up and brushing down towards the edge.


If the book has coated paper, interleave waxed paper between all damp/wet pages. Failure to do so will result in papers sticking to one another. 22)Archives & Library Disaster Plan

If the leaves cannot be immediately separated, coated paper should be frozen on nylon monofilament fishing line. 23)Archives & Library Disaster Plan


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