Session on Care and Handling of Library Materials for Digtial Scanning

In-House Course Handout

Part 1: Criteria for Selecting Items for Conservation Treatment before Digital Scanning
Part 2: Safe Handling of Library Materials – Review of Practices

  1. Basics
  2. Books
  3. Paper
  4. Photographs
Part 3: Review Sheet to Select a Scanner for Books
Part 4: Criteria for Selecting Proper Scanning Equipment
Part 5: NDL Liaisons in the Conservation Division [Names and phone numbers]
Part 6: Catalog for supplies [not included here]



Criteria for Selecting Items for Conservation Treatment before Digital Scanning


1. Foldouts that require flattening or mending.

2. Pages with large tears across image area.

3. Folios in pamphlets that are bound by over-sewing or by stapling.

4. Pages dog-eared or creased in a way that obscures text/image.

5. Pages stuck together.

6. Uncut pages.

7. Books with text blocks that will not open even to 90 degrees.


1. Tears over 1 cm. long that bisect the edge of the paper.

2. Holes larger than 1.5 cm. in diameter.

3. Creases and folds that obscure text/image.

4. Folded brittle paper that requires unfolding.


1. Flaking or cracking of image.

2. Tears or breaks in image area.

3. Losses in image area.

4. Adhesive tapes on the image.

5. Photograph lifting away from the mount/backing.


Safe Handling of Library Materials – Review of Practices

  1. Basics -- The highest priority for the preservation of the materials is a safe, clean working environment:
    1. No food or drink in the work spaces.
    2. Wash hands after and before eating - this is also for your own health and safety.
    3. Do not use pens, markers or sharp objects near the books.
    4. Prepare work spaces and surfaces before beginning.
    5. Have sufficient space cleared to safely handle all steps in the procedures. Normally this should be six times the dimension of the materials being worked with.
    6. Keep surfaces clean and uncluttered.
    7. Do not place objects on top of the library materials. If necessary to stack, limit the stack sizes. Do not place items on the floor, near windows or on radiators.
    8. When you leave the area close books and cover documents.
    9. Be observant and use common sense.
    10. Feel free to contact us if you have any questions.
  2. Books -- Safe handling of books includes:
    1. Support the sides of books that appear to have weak bindings and/or are designated for an opening of less than 180 degrees.
    2. Never force a spine open or apply hard or abrupt pressure to pages to open them.
    3. Do not wet your fingers to turn the pages.
    4. Turn pages by lifting the upper right corner and then supporting the page with your whole hand to turn it.
  3. Paper -- Safe handling of documents and flat materials includes:

    1. Support single sheet items with a more rigid support - folder, polyester film, or board. Keep one hand under the object and, if the object is too large, get someone to provide assistance.
    2. If the item appears fragile or brittle use a polyester film folder for scanning. When handling remember that polyester film has static charge. Open the folder completely to insert the sheet.
    3. Oversized items may be supported by a rigid board. When turning an item over, it should be sandwiched between two boards so that both sides of the item are supported.
    4. To pick up a single sheet use a corner of paper inserted under the edge.
    5. If you need to turn the item over, move slowly and do not flex the item by having sufficient space for the operation.
    6. A folded item may be unfolded carefully after determining that it is not brittle by looking at the folded edge and paper edges for small tears and breaks that indicate brittleness.
    7. Use both hands to support a stack of folders.
    8. Keep materials in order to minimize handling.
  4. Photographs

    1. Do not touch the surfaces of photographic emulsions.
    2. Do not try to flatten curved or curled photographs that are mounted on board.


Review Sheet to Select a Scanner for Books

Book may be scanned on the book-edge scanner if all items checked are in Column A.
Book must be scanned using an overhead device if any item in Column B is checked.
**Note: If the sewing is restrictive and only allows the book to open less than 90 degrees, the book cannot be scanned. Books in this category may be reviewed by conservation for possible treatment.

Item: _______________________________________________________________

No. of Pages: ____________

Column A (OK to Invert)Column B (Do Not Invert)
__ 8 ˝ x 11 inches or smaller__ between 8 ˝ and 11 x 17 inches
__ less than 1 ˝ inches thick __ larger than 11 x 17 inches
__ thicker than 1 ˝ inches __ thicker than 4 inches
__ Cover/text attachment is strong__ Cover/text attachment is weak
__ flexible__ brittle
__ cockled pages__ breaking at spine
__ gutter margins more than 3 /8 inch __ margins less than 3/8 inch in gutter
__ sewing gone, pages completely separated __ sewing intact, but some pages loose
__ sewing strong and intact__ sewing broken, one or more sections loose
__ sewing weak, book falls open easily
(recommended opening 120 degrees)
__ Restrictive sewing:__ Restrictive sewing:
__ opens to 120 degrees without stress to pages or binding __ opens less than 90 degrees (cannot be scanned)
__ opens only to 90 degrees

Other information that may influence choice of scanner:

__ foldouts
__ color illustrations
__ halftone illustrations
__ other (please specify) _______________________________________________________________________

If item needs conservation, please check the following:

__ needs housing: __ before treatment __ after treatment
__ separate uncut pages
__ mend pages: __ mend tears across image area __ guard unbound folios
__ flatten foldouts __ mend foldouts
__ open out dog-eared pages obscuring text or image
__ other (please specify) ________________________________________________________________________

Reviewer’s recommendation: __ OK to invert
__ Do not invert
__ Cannot be scanned (explain) __________________________________________________________________

Scanner recommended:

__ Book-edge
__ Overhead, with cradle

Degree of recommended opening: __ 90 degrees
__ 110 degrees
__ 120 degrees
__ 130 degrees
__ 180 degrees
__ less than 90 degrees (cannot be scanned)


Criteria for Selecting Proper Scanning Equipment

Materials which can be safely inverted and scanned on a flatbed scanner include:
a. copy negatives
b. photographic prints in good condition
c. flat paper items in good condition and without friable media (i.e. pastels)
d. items that are sleeved in polyester film (Mylar¨) so that they can be handled safely
e. pamphlet and sheet music items that are in good condition and can open to 180 degrees.

Materials which must be scanned by overhead scanning equipment include:
a. books, on a cradle or with wedges, if necessary
b. photographs adhered to board mounts
c. anything that cannot be pressed flat safely
d. anything too large to be turned over safely
e. anything larger than the dimensions of the flat bed scanner.