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Dust, dirt and volunteers

This Preservation Advisory Centre training day was held at the British Library Centre for Conservation on 14 June 2012.

This training day builds an understanding of what dust is and why its management is important. It explores low-cost methods of monitoring dust and dirt and discusses methods of preventing its build-up. The day includes practical sessions on how to clean books and stack areas. It provides steps to follow when setting up a housekeeping programme and highlights what to think about if you are considering involving volunteers.

The training day is led by Jane Pimlott (British Library), Paul Garside (British Library) and Caroline Bendix ACR (Independent Conservator). At the end of the day participants will be able to:

  • define what dust is.
  • explain why it is necessary to keep storage areas and collections clean.
  • monitor for dust and dirt.
  • identify appropriate cleaning techniques.
  • establish a housekeeping programme.
  • work with volunteers.


Why did you attend this training day?

  • To learn the proper way to clean archival materials.
  • To find out more about dust and monitoring dust.
  • Need for dust survey and potentially setting up a housekeeping programme.
  • To set up team of volunteers.

What did you learn?

  • So much! Lots of helpful advice on prevention and cleaning - equipment and techniques.
  • How dust affects objects and archive materials.
  • Simple, cheap, practical measures.
  • Really useful tips on managing volunteers.

What will you do differently as a result of attending this training day?

  • I will check more areas within work for dust and consider the effect of dust in public areas as well as the repository.
  • Institute a dust survey and a housekeeping programme.
  • I am more confident about starting a cleaning programme.
  • Set up some volunteers.

Other comments

  • Absolutely super, especially Caroline Bendix - a mine of useful and practical information.
  • Great course, very interesting and educational. Thank you.
  • Very useful to cover managing volunteers.
  • Very well run course.


09.45 Registration
10.00 Welcome and introductions
10.15 What is dust and why does it matter
10.40 Monitoring and measuring dust: a case study in progress at the British Library
11.10 Questions
11.30 Break
11.50 Preventing dust and dirt
12.30 Lunch
13.15 Cleaning books and documents
13.45 Cleaning shelves and stacks
14.15 Break
14.30 Setting up a housekeeping programme and working with volunteers
15.45 Discussion and questions
16.00 End