How To Maintain Books in a Library

Library science is by definition, the study of the principles and practices of library administration. It is a constantly evolving science which assimilates the practices, theories, and methods of management, information technology, education, and archival to the administration of libraries. As books and information forms the core of all libraries, the maintenance of these forms an integral aspect of library science.

The first of the five laws of library science ,''Books are for use' , comments on the need for books to be appealing aesthetically and content-wise and to be of sturdy built allowing for regular use by different hands. The importance of maintenance in the library is emphasised by the first law itself. The following aspects are of significance in the maintenance of books.

Step 1

Environmental aspects affect organic matter and therefore library materials like books, journals etc have to be housed in temperature controlled conditions which allow for human comfort without endangering library material requirement. 65-68˚F is a temperature range which meets both needs. As photographs and film have different storage needs, they need to be stored separately at 55˚F. While high humidity supports mold and insects, low humidity affects the flexibility of material. Humidity should be maintained with as little deviation as possible between 30-50% keeping in mind the needs of the material in question.

Step 2

Shelving. Bright light will cause wearing down of leather and cloth colour while dust, dirt and grime from handling affect the book's life. Closed glass shelves placed sufficiently away from bright light or damp walls help to reduce damage. Regular cleaning of book racks prevents accumulation of grime and its bad effects. Vertical grouped placement of similar sized books, without being too tight or too loose, will help prevent warping of a tall book from leaning onto a shorter book.

Step 3

Stock verification and maintenance. Regular audits of library stock, books and shelves, help in ensuring that library material remain relevant and appealing. Important aspects of a robust audit mechanism are:

  • Gaps assessment to be used as a pointer for enhancing future development
  • Identify material in need of repairs, support etc and development of a restoration agenda
  • Identification of material to be removed as per Standards established considering relevance, need, resources etc
  • Identification of outdated, offensive or worn out material to be disposed of or discarded as per agreed norms

Step 4

User awareness. Handouts or posters to educate the users on handling books will also help in reducing damage and ensuring the long life of books. Some hints are:

  • If a book will not lie flat, do not use force to open further
  • The covers should always be supported when the book is open
  • Push the two adjoining books inward and remove the book by grasping the spine rather than pulling off a book by the top of its spine
  • Discourage use of paper clips and marking pens and folding of page corners

Having taken care of the maintenance aspect, you are sure to enjoy the pleasure of retaining the magic appeal of books for all the current and future users of your library.


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