Using gloves with books and manuscripts

Watch the video to help you decide when to wear gloves with collection items.

Don’t wear gloves because you feel you should. Watch our video to help you evaluate the risks and benefits of wearing them.

Key points about gloves

Don't wear gloves just because you feel you should. Evaluate the risks and benefits of wearing them first.

Wearing gloves can make it harder to judge the condition of the item you’re handling. This can lead to a reduction in dexterity, making it harder to handle items safely. This can increase the risk of damage.

Gloves can pick up and transfer dirt and debris to other items. This is a particular problem with cotton gloves. It's often better to ensure hands are clean rather than to wear gloves.

You may be asked to wear gloves to handle certain vulnerable material types.

Find out more about fingerprints and their potential impact on our collections.

Collection guides

The King's Library

The collection of George III includes thousands of books and pamphlets

Philip Larkin

Philip Larkin collection of books

Dutch printed collections

Publications covering a wide range of subjects and periods from the Dutch-speaking territories

German printed collections

Early and modern material printed in the German-speaking countries

Thomason Tracts

A key source for the English Civil War in the mid-17th century

Burney collection

Largest single collection of 17th and 18th-century English newspapers available

Scandinavian printed collections

One of the richest collections of books from the Scandinavian countries

Garrick Collection of English Plays

David Garrick's collection of 16th and 17th-century printed plays

Russian avant-garde collections

An extensive collection of avant-garde books of the early 20th century

Spanish printed collections

Includes 16,600 Spanish books published before 1801

French printed collections

Incunabula, books, journals, maps and music

French Revolutionary Tracts

50,000 books, pamphlets and periodicals printed in France between the 1780s and 1840s

Modern Greek printed collections

One of the world's finest collections of Greek and Cyprus imprints

Portuguese printed collections

Contemporary and antiquarian material, including 225 books published in Portugal before 1601

Italian printed collections

Our Italian collections cover all periods and a wide variety of subjects