How to handle books

See how to safely remove books from shelves.

Watch our video on the tools and methods you should use when handling books.

Watch the video to see how you should stack books.

Books need careful handling. Watch our videos to see the tools and techniques you should use when handling, carrying and removing books from shelves. By following our advice you are helping us preserve books.

Please handle books with care

If you're removing books from shelves, don't pull them from the top of the spine, as this can cause damage.

Most books are not designed to open flat, so you should support them during use. Use book supports to provide support while limiting the opening angle.

Books are complex structures which can easily be placed under stress or tension. They can appear more robust than they actually are. Different binding styles need specific support methods to prevent strain and damage in use. You should pay attention to the spine area as this can split and weaken the binding structure.

Key points

When handling books, you should:

  • take the time to check you are supporting books adequately
  • use the book supports in a way that suits the book – adjust the supports or add more as needed
  • have tools and equipment to hand and enough space to work in.

If you carry or stack books:

  • limit the amount of items that you move or stack at one time
  • create stable piles of books by alternating between spine and fore edge
  • make more than one trip or use a trolley if moving large numbers of books.

To remove books from shelves:

  • grasp books mid-spine and lift them to remove them from the shelf
  • support heavy books underneath.