Good housekeeping for library and archive collections means keeping the materials and surrounding areas clean, educating staff and users in how to handle research materials, monitoring handling practices, and how users conduct themselves on library premises (and monitoring them), and housing and shelving materials appropriately.

Smoking, eating, and drinking have no place in any area where collections are stored or used. Smoking not only fouls the air; it also leaves tar and nicotine deposits that degrade paper artifacts. Food and drink attract insects and rodents, leave residues that cause surface contamination, and pose a direct threat to research materials and equipment through spillage.

The cleanliness of storage areas is especially important, because dirt and grime damage materials and provide nutrients that promote mold and attract insects and rodents. If windows must be kept open for air circulation, the window openings must be covered by fine insect screening. Screens not only keep out bats, birds, and insects; they also slightly reduce the amount of dust (particulates) blowing through the windows. The screens should be removable so that they can be thoroughly vacuumed and washed on a regular basis.

A library that has an air conditioning system with regularly maintained particulate filters will have to clean much less often than if it had no such system. If run continuously, a well-functioning air conditioning system provides the best form of control against dust and other particulates, but much can be accomplished even without such a system.

All areas of the library should be cleaned regularly. Setting up a cleaning schedule for public spaces and storage areas may be helpful. A housekeeping manual for staff can detail procedures and special instructions for caring for the collections. Storage areas, counters, and tabletops should be cleaned often to prevent the accumulation of dirt. Floors should be vacuumed and damp-mopped at least every 48 hours, and carpets vacuumed at least once a day. Damp mopping, rather than wet mopping, reduces the risk of raising the humidity in confined areas. It also helps prevent books on lower shelves from being splashed by water and other cleaning materials.

Books should be shelved and compressed properly. Compression helps to prevent dust and other debris from falling into the text blocks. It also aids regular cleaning of books at the shelf: the tops of books that are properly compressed can be easily dusted or vacuumed. A good choice for removing light dust layers from books and shelves is magnetic cleaning cloths, which use an electrostatic charge to attract and hold dust and thus leave no damaging chemicals behind. These cloths should be changed frequently.

Ideally, suitable vacuum cleaners should be used to remove dust from carpets, floors, books, and shelving, because sweeping can simply move the dust from one area to another. Much of the dust in libraries and archives consists of soft brown particles produced by the collection—small flakes of paper fibers, leather fragments, and textile threads. Most problematic, though, is the dust produced by industrial pollution—the fine black soot usually seen around window openings and HVAC ducts. Most domestic and industrial vacuum cleaners cannot retain this very fine dust (or mold spores), since ordinary vacuum filters are not designed to hold such small particles in the bag unit.Housekeeping: HEPA vacuum Only special high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filters will capture this fine dust. HEPAvacuum cleaners, now available for domestic use, are capable of retaining particles as small as 0.5 micron. Many libraries and museums use Nilfisk-brand HEPA vacuums, particularly model GM-80.

Procedure for cleaning books

• Keep books firmly closed while cleaning them, and use magnetic cloths or vacuums to prevent dirt from slipping down between the leaves.
• Remove books from the shelf in order, placing them on a cart with a bookend for support; then clean the shelf.
• Clean each book starting with the top, which tends to be dirtiest, and then wiping or vacuuming the rest of the book.
• Wipe or brush away from the spine, to avoid pushing dirt into the endcap, or down the spine of the binding.
• Work on one shelf at a time, moving from top to bottom.
• Return books to the shelf in order.