Staff and Users


food and drink policyThe users of a library include scholars, teachers, students, undergraduates, postgraduates, researchers, teaching assistants, corporate users, foreign students, staff, schoolchildren, the public, and individuals from other institutions. An important message for users that should be embedded in training is that individuals can ruin materials and reduce access for others. The continuing accessibility of the collections is a group effort to which everyone should contribute.

food and drink policyLibraries often have numerous policies in place to protect collections. A few basic policies are common to all libraries. One of these addresses the proper way to handle materials in the library and at home. The University of California at San Diego has a useful website that includes "The Dos and Don'ts of Videotape Care," "Permanence, Care, and Handling of CDs," "Mutilation of Library Materials," "Shelving Books in the General Collection," and "Proper Handling of Materials for Photocopying," along with a preservation quiz. Many of these links have illustrations and catchy sayings to illustrate their point.

food and drink policyNorthwestern University Library has a website that describes the simple care and handling of books. It includes information on how to photocopy and shelve books, and it addresses the damage caused by food and drink. After a brief quiz, cartoon-like posters conclude the session.

Various posters dealing with the care and handling of books as well as food and drink can be found at:

food and drink policyBookmarks and postcards are also useful for getting a preservation point across, as they are small, inexpensive to produce, and easily viewed.

The following websites offer suggestions for bookmarks:

Videos are a useful way to get the message across at public presentations, lectures, and school gatherings. Examples of these can be found at Northwestern University Library and Smith College Libraries.

Teaching children the value of handling library materials carefully can pay off in the future. School librarians have a vital role to play in this regard. Allowing children to make book covers, posters, bookmarks, and paper will help them appreciate books while giving them an opportunity for creative expression.

Staff and users: No cell phonesCellular phones are becoming a problem in libraries because they disturb the concentration of others. Users should be thoughtful enough to turn off their cell phones while in a library or be willing to leave to a designated area if they must talk. Posted policies with clear instructions should be located at easy to see spots in the library. Users should not view the library as their living room at home.

Food and drink pose dangers to the collection and can be noisy. In recent years, some libraries have installed refreshment areas, usually in the lobby. These areas can become congested and noisy. While profitable, they can create a negative impression and give the wrong message to users.


Preservation professionals should be aggressive advocates for their collections. Maintaining a circulating collection is only a part of the preservation job. There are some simple steps that staff can take to help users understand the need for care. For example, supplying plastic bags to patrons for carrying books in the rain can both protect the collection and send a positive message to users. A few general guidelines for staff training are found at University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and The British Library's Preservation Advisory Centre.