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Promoting good handling

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

Ensuring the safe use of collections by staff and readers is both good practice and a cost-effective method of preventing damage. Risk assessments regularly find that use of collections presents a high risk of damage, yet it is a risk that is easily mitigated. This training day is aimed at library and archive staff with responsibility for writing, implementing or promoting handling and use policies. The day communicates the role of good handling practices in the preservation of library and archive collections, outlines methods of promoting good handling practices within organisations and to users, and provides information that supports library and archive staff with the implementation of handling policies. It is led by Jane Pimlott and Sarah Hamlyn of the British Library.


Why did you attend this training day?

  • To ensure we are employing ‘best practice’ both in the reading room and in staff areas.
  • To help promote good handling amongst users of book collections. To gain knowledge for drawing up handling guidelines.
  • To find out more about promoting good handling of items to our users, and also communicating these principles to colleagues.
  • To ensure we are employing best practice both in the reading room and in staff areas.
  • To learn about preservation best practice and to be able to train colleagues in these issues.

What did you learn?.

  • I learnt more about the structure of books, how best to handle material, and some great ideas for how to promote good handling to users of the archives.
  • A huge amount was reinforced, about vulnerability of library and archive materials. More new information about tools and equipment.
  • Practical knowledge of book construction and the proper use of book rests / supports.
  • Examples for writing policies. Ways to address handling.
  • I found it very useful learning about tools and equipment. The policy information has been very, very useful.

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

  • Institute regular, formal training sessions for all staff: update/improve our information to users.
  • Use my new knowledge day-to-day to promote good handling to readers.
  • Increase use of book rests, create a leaflet, push through preservation policy.
  • Improve guidance on handling for both staff and students.
  • Produce a policy. Review handling procedures. Put more information on the web.


09.45 Registration
10.00 Welcome and introductions
10.15 Library and archive materials: their vulnerability to handling/use
11.00 Break
11.15 Good handling policies - content and preparation
11.45 Practical exercise
12.15 Equipment and use
12.45 Lunch
13.30 Promoting good handling in-house
14.00 Promoting good handling to users
14.30 Discussion and questions
14.45 Break
15.00 The role of protective enclosures
15.30 Questions
15.45 End