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Handling Vault Materials

Page history last edited by Deborah J. Leslie 10 years, 7 months ago

Protocol for working with vault materials


  • Wash your hands before handling rare materials.
  • Clear your work space as much as possible.
  • Cap and put away pens.
  • Read with your eyes, not with fingers or pencils. Use a bookmark to mark your place if necessary.
  • No drinking (or eating, of course) in the vicinity of rare materials.
  • During the day, vault materials may be left in staff work areas as long as they are either attended by a person or behind locked doors. No need to wheel trucks &c. into the Deck A Lockup for lunch or breaks. When exiting the cataloging office and no one else is within sight, close the door leading into the Deck A reference area, double-checking that it is locked. Return all vault materials to the Deck A Lockup or other designated collection storage area overnight.
  • Materials with a "Do not remove from shelf" flag:
    • get permission from a curator before retrieving
    • return to main vault at the end of the day
  • Do not use stamps with water-soluble ink on flags inserted in rare materials, regardless of whether the flags are meant to be permanent or temporary


Vault material processing


These instructions apply to any item housed in any of the rare material vaults, regardless of date or format: STC vault, Art vault, Deck C. Thus, modern books assigned to the Shakespeare Collection or any other collection or location on Deck C are to be processed using these instructions.


Conservation issues


  • When handling items in envelopes, replace all acidic sleeves, and acid-free sleeves that are flush with or shorter than the envelope, with acid-free sleeves that extend above the envelope.
  • If you see possible evidence of mold, close book immediately, enclose in plastic bag (quarto-size zip-lock bags kept in Cataloging Storeroom), and take to Conservation for evaluation. Chances are that even if it is mold, the spores are unlikely to be active. Nevertheless, the ill consequences of exposing other materials to active mold are too high to take chances (per Renate Mesmer).
  • When coming across tears, loose leaves, or detached or loose boards, add information to: \\Nerissa\CentralLibrary\Mending Trucks\CatalogersMending.xls. Curators will work from this sheet to examine and select material for mending and/or phase boxing. Please note that ShCol project procedures as outlined in the ShCol project conservation procedures have a separate procedure. For the foreseeable future, only ShCol materials will be sent for phase boxing.


Writing call numbers in books

  • The Reading Room uses the location of the written call number as an additional check on its proper location. In rare books, the call number is written at the back of the book, in contrast to modern books where the call number is written on the t.p. verso.
  • Write the call number in a soft (#1) pencil on the inside back cover of each volume, adding copy and/or volume numbers as necessary. Write the call number near the upper, outer edge of the inside back cover whenever possible. If this location is not available, use any free space where the call number will be conspicuous and won't stress the spine, such as the upper, outer edge of the last page of the book. The call number may be written directly under the accession number. If any erasure is needed, use a non-abrasive eraser. Frank Mowery has authorized MagicRub™ and Staedtlar Mars™ for use on paper. Soft pencils and MagicRub erasers are available in the Cataloging Department store room.
  • Follow the same principle for single-sheet items. If margins permit, write the call number in the upper right corner of the sheet verso. Make adjustments as necessary.


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