Skip to Main Content

Care & Handling of Special Collections Materials: Works on Paper

This guide offers best practices for handling and using special collections materials in the Library's reading rooms. The guide is intended for those staff who work with readers, provide instruction using special collections, and security staff who monit

Tips for Works on Paper

  • Handle paper objects are little and as carefully as possible
  • Take extra care with brittle paper
  • Keep documents flat on table tops
  • Do not allow documents to hang over table edges
  • House frequently-consulted fragile documents in polyester sleeves
  • Be mindful of edges and corners, which may be more fragile or damaged

Tips for Oversized Works

  • Use support boards or portfolios to transport items to reading room
  • Lift oversized paper objects via opposite corners on a diagonal
  • Check for tears and weak areas at corners and edges before moving
  • Use soft weights to hold curling or rolled paper

Tips for Rolled Paper

  • Make sure in advance that you have sufficient space to unroll the item
  • Slowing unroll item, checking for edge damage as you go
  • Use weights to secure the free edge to allow you use of both hands for the rest of the unrolling
  • Remind patrons not to re-roll items themselves but to ask for assistance