Preservation Do's and Don'ts

Libraries have books that contain household hints and helpful tips on repairing books and paper.  Some of the tips are not so helpful.   Here are some don'ts to counter some actual printed suggestions and do's based on recommendations of knowledgeable librarians.


Don't use hydrogen peroxide, lemon juice, denatured alcohol, or cornstarch.

Do remove the material from your collection.  Mold/mildew will spread. To stop mold/mildew from growing, change the environment, i.e., lower the temperature, lower the humidity, or create airflow.

Wet Pages

Don't use talcum powder or cornstarch.  Cornstarch will attract pests.

Do immediately dry in circulating air.  (See Mold/Mildew above).  Undercoated paper towels may be used.  Interleave them between damp pages to absorb moisture.  They will need to be changed as they wick up moisture.  Mold/mildew will occur if paper remains wet too long. If book is soaked, wrap book in freezer paper and freeze.  Then call conservator.

Musty Smell

Don't use baking soda or talcum powder.

Do place the fanned out book in direct sunlight for two to three houses.  (Sunlight can cause fading). Protect loose pages from wind.  This will help some.

Soiled Edges

Don't rub a lump of modeling clay over the spot.  Modeling clay has oil

Do use art or rubber eraser, e.g., Pink pearl or Magic Rub.  Contact your District Library Center or

Library Network for supply catalogs.


Don't sandpaper out stains.  Don't rub soft breadcrumbs over grease stains.  Breadcrumbs will invite pests.

Do consult a paper conservator if it is important to you to have stains removed.  An Opaline pad or Skum­ X can absorb some spots.

Crayon Marks

Don't use rubber cement or sandpaper. Do consult a paper conservator.

Prepared by Preservation Round Table of Pennsylvania Library Association 2/4/94