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Collections Care

Collections Care

Preservation helps provide basic training on good care, handling, and storage of various materials to library staff, including offering Preservation Training for Student Assistants.

We provide Rainy Day Book Bags to help our users keep their books and other library materials dry on rainy days.  We also advise libraries on stacks cleaning and/or loan a HEPA vacuum to various UW Libraries so that they can clean collections as needed.

Environmental Monitoring

The UW Libraries uses the Image Permanence Institute’s dataloggers and software to monitor the environmental conditions of selected library collection areas.  Our goal is to document, monitor, and optimize collection storage environments to benefit the long-term preservation of the UW Libraries’ collections.

All library materials are subject to biological, chemical, and mechanical deterioration but research has shown that a stable moderate climate increases the life and usefulness of collections. For example, a book stored at 75°F and 55%RH is estimated to deteriorate twice as fast as a book stored at 68°F and 45%RH. Environmental Guidelines for the Storage of Paper Records (NISO-TR01-1995) recommends 70°F maximum and 30-50%RH (with a maximum daily fluctuation of +/- 2°F and +/- 3%RH) for combined stack and user areas. Optimum conditions for preservation are colder and drier (35°-65° 30-50%RH). Some inherently very unstable materials like photographs and film greatly benefit from cold storage.

In general, stable cooler and drier conditions slow the aging of materials and reduce the risk of insect and mold problems. Of course, light, dirt, dust and pollutants also play a role in deterioration.


Marking or Shelf Preparation prepares library materials for shelving and use by:

  • applying call number labels
  • marking library ownership and providing security tags
  • setting aside damaged or vulnerable items for repair or rehousing

We use labels that conform to the Library of Congress Preservation Supply Specifications.

Training and Outreach

Preservation and conservation staff provide two internships a year to students with a demonstrated interest in preservation and conservation:

In spring, Preservation and Conservation of Library Materials is typically taught by preservation staff through the UW Information School and we maintain a guide for conservation and preservation research.

The UW Libraries also participates in ALA’s Preservation Week.  Preservation Week is usually celebrated in April or May each year.