How to handle materials at The Bancroft Library

General handling

  • Keep your hands clean and dry.
  • Place materials on the table. Do not put materials on the floor, on a chair, or on your lap.
  • Avoid leaning on materials or piling them up.
  • Do not bend, fold, or flatten materials. This is particularly important for maps and other oversize items.
  • Notify library staff if you see any evidence of insects or rodents, mildew, damp, unusual dirt, or deterioration.
  • Do not attempt to repair material yourself. If you see damage, please ask the Circulation or Reference Desk to send you an email with the link to the “Researcher Comment” form.
  • Bancroft staff reserves the right to advise proper use of materials at any time.
  • Due to preservation concerns, archival audiovisual materials must be digitized prior to use. Please consult with Bancroft staff about your options.

Handling containers (boxes and cartons)

  • Watch this quick video for general guidelines on handling containers.
  • Be sure that containers are sitting straight on their bottom sides. Avoid tipping, jostling, dropping, or positioning containers on their end. All material must remain fully on the table at all times.
  • Do not use weakened or torn hand holes on containers.
  • Support folders with hands at both sides when removing them from the container to prevent the contents from spilling out. Do not place full folders on end.
  • Return one item at a time. Library staff will assist in delivering and returning all oversize items.
  • Align sheets within folders so that ends are not protruding beyond the protection of the folder.
  • Flat boxes should always be carried and used flat.

Handling bound volumes

  • Watch this quick video for general guidelines on handling volumes.
  • Use only paper as a bookmark.
  • Never force open a book with a tight binding. Do not stack opened books or place them face down.
  • Avoid touching the surface of ink, paint, or gold leaf; especially on vellum, ink can chip or be rubbed off.
  • Turn pages at their outer edges.
  • If you encounter unopened/uncut pages (where the folds in the gatherings are still connected, preventing the turning of single pages), please alert the Reference Desk. The Reference Desk will either assist or alert the Curator of Rare Books.
  • Be aware of the condition of the books you are handling. Even new-looking books may be at risk: for example, perfect-bound books with pages that are simply glued into the spine and that can easily pop out when not handled with care.

Handling pictorial materials

  • Watch this quick video for general guidelines on handling negatives.
  • Use gloves when handling negatives, transparencies, and all unprotected pictorial material.
  • Hold a print, drawing, or photograph, even when mounted, at its sides with both hands.
  • Touch only the edges of photoprints, never the image itself.
  • Keep pictorial materials flat; do not flex them.
  • Limit movement, shifting, and stacking of images within folders or containers. Carry boxes by supporting them at the bottom.
  • Use care in handling binders of photos: Images may be unsecured or too close to the binding hardware, and cardboard-mounted photographs may be in danger of flexing.
  • Please note: Pictorial staff must assist in the handling of at-risk or restricted pictorial material.