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Using Archives & Manuscripts: Handling Materials

Overview of using archives and manuscripts, including tips for research visits, handling materials, and quoting and citing in academic work or publications.

Conservation @ NYU

The Barbara Goldsmith Conservation Laboratory provides conservation services for NYU Libraries' books and archival collections in order to preserve them for current and future scholars.

Conservation treatments preserve the physical object through professionally accepted treatments (including cleaning, deacidification, repairs, encapsulation and rehousing) that prolong the life of the materials.

Handling Special Collections Materials

Special collections respositories contain materials in a wide variety of formats, including books, manuscripts, documents, serials, broadsides, photographs, printed ephemera, and objects.  These items are often one-of-a-kind.  To ensure their long-term preservation, please observe the following guidelines: 

  • Handle documents carefully. 
  • Read books in book cradles, if appropriate. 
  • Inform library staff when you encounter volumes with uncut pages.
  • Keep folders of documents flat on the table.
  • Do not hold documents up in the air to read them. 
  • Turn pages gently.
  • Do not disturb the order of the documents. 
  • Use pencils to take notes. 
  • Do not eat or drink near special collections materials. 
  • Wash your hands before handling documents. 
  • Be sure to alert archives staff if you encounter damaged or extremely fragile material that may need special attention before it can be safely handled. 

Library of Congress - Caring for Your Collections

The Library of Congress Preservation Division offers advice for the collector of family treasures as well as for the professionals who care for materials in libraries. 

Learn about preservation initiatives at the Library of Congress, emergency preparedness, and tips for caring for your collections.