Care of Books

This intensive workshop discusses the basic care of books as well as their structure, composition and varying formats. It covers both inherent and environmental agents of deterioration and their effects on bound volumes. Examination and documentation procedures are discussed, and a range of preventive conservation topics that relate specifically to books are presented. Through demonstrations and hands-on sessions, proper handling techniques are introduced along with a variety of enclosures and minimal interventions (for example, surface cleaning). The workshop will also touch on ways to minimize potential damage and loss in an emergency or disaster.

Learning objectives

Upon completion of this workshop, participants will be able to

  • identify and explain differences in structure, composition and format of various types of books;
  • identify agents of deterioration and understand the mechanisms of deterioration;
  • implement proper handling and storage procedures for book collections as well as select appropriate enclosures and storage materials; and
  • develop some understanding of salvage and recovery procedures for books following a disaster.


Structure, composition and formats

  • Understanding the composition and structure of various book formats in order to more readily identify common problems within collections.
  • Comparisons of various book structures and basic information relating to the history of the book.


  • Deterioration of cellulose, leather and vellum and how these materials affect the longevity of books.
  • Inherent agents of deterioration as well as common external agents of deterioration.
  • Common deterioration problems and remedial actions that can be taken to slow down deterioration.

Handling, examination and documentation

  • Proper handling techniques for bound volumes.
  • Using the correct terminology when describing book structures.

Preventive conservation

  • Preventive conservation and its role in the preservation of cultural heritage.
  • Information on and procedures related to a wide range of preventive conservation topics (specifically addressing the preservation concerns of books whenever possible): light, environmental conditions, security, fire protection, handling, maintenance, storage, exhibition, packing and transit, pest management, and disaster preparedness and response.


  • Basic interventions such as minor surface cleaning and the creation of enclosures such as phase boxes, wraps and book shoes.
  • Creation of a simple pamphlet binding structure.

Disaster recovery

  • Introduction to procedures for the safe recovery of books from water damage and other disasters.
  • Minimizing potential for damage during salvage and recovery operations.

Target audience

Librarians, archivists, bookbinders, conservators, volunteers and any other personnel responsible for the care of books and bound materials.



Enrollment limits

Minimum 8, maximum 18


Two days

Special requirements

  • Projector and screen
  • Tables for hands-on work
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