UCB Libraries


The Preservation unit supports the Libraries’ mission by providing preservation and conservation services for the Libraries’ general collections, special collections and archives.  We endeavor to maintain access to the intellectual content of the Libraries’ holdings by providing preservation and conservation services such as book repair; conservation treatments and services; preparation of newly acquired materials for shelving, including providing enclosures, binding or other treatments; preparation of damaged or special materials for transfer to offsite storage; and bindery services.

In addition, Preservation administers the Rescued Books procedure (including the brittle/unbindable procedure); evaluates the condition and treatment needs of individual collections; and establishes treatment standards for the collections based on current best practices.


Preservation hosts links on our web page (use the Resources tab below) to many other sites offering support for preserving library, museum, and personal collections.


  • Current Events

  • Bindery

  • Shelf Prep

  • Conservation

  • Assessment

  • Resources




A copy of this project description is available in PDF format - Map Makeover.


Welcome to the Map Makeover! Map Library staff observe increasing interest in historical maps from many types of library users, including family historians, civil planners, environmental scientists, cultural historians, and property owners. Because the information contained in these maps is NOT available on-line, they are being specifically sought out for their uniqueness. Therefore it is very important to preserve the maps for future researchers, and be sure they do not fade or tear, resulting in the loss of valuable information. This June the Presevation Unit embarked on a project that had been waiting in the wings for many years. We would like to share the process of rescuing these maps, repairing them, stabalizing them and eventually returning them to the Map Library. We hope that you enjoy learning the process as much as we have enjoyed treating these!



The maps: There were 38 maps in varying states of disrepair some with significant water damage, crushed ends or tears. Many of the maps were historical class room maps and were still nailed or tacked to wood or metal rods. In many cases the paper that the maps were printed on was brittle and crumbled easily. One of the bigger challenges was the size of these maps, some were as large as 9.5 feet by 6 feet. The steps below outline the treatments we performed on these large maps.



Step 1: Assess the condition. All of the maps were assigned a condition rating based on the size and the degree of damage. We decided to tackle the maps with the lowest condition rating (least damaged) and to conclude with those in the worst condition. Several of the more valuable maps in very poor condition were set aside to be sent to an outside conservator because we do not have the equipment or space to wash oversize maps in order to remove staining or remove the original backing.


Step 2: Humidification. Most of the maps will be stored flat in map cases at the Map Library. Since many of these maps had been rolled for years and years, we had to relax the paper with water vapor. Most of the maps needed humidification using our very high-tech humidifier (basically a tupperware container with a little water at the bottom and supports that allowed the maps to sit above the water). This worked incredibly well! Once the maps had absorbed a sufficient amount of water we carefully unrolled the maps onto blotter paper, then covered the maps with a layer of blotter paper applied weight for a day or two.



Step 3: Clean. The maps were incredilby dirty. Depending on each map’s condition we used a Hake brush for the most delicate and brittle maps, a soot sponge for the others and for the dirtiest maps, we used a Nilfisk vacuum (these are made with preservation purposes in mind so we can control the suction) if the paper was stable enough.






Step 4: Remove Tape. Many of these maps had been previously repaired using household repair techniques, most commonly our enemy, pressure sensitive tape. Tape is extremely acidic and must be removed if possible (notice the discoloration of the paper below). We do our best to remove the tape and adhesive. Our success ultimately depends on the extent of the taping, the strength/acidity of the paper, and the age of the adhesive. We had several stratagies… first we tried to lift the tape using a lifting knife. If the lifting knife would not work we attempted to use heat to remove the tape. Our heat source is a tool designed for woodburning decoration. The tip is very fine and usually allows us to lift the adhesive carrier (the tape) in order to expose the adhesive. If there was many risk of losing text or any information on the map we left the tape on.


Once the tape was off, we removed the adhesive. First we used a rubber cement eraser that balls up the adhesive and removes it from the paper. If the paper was too delicate for the rubber cement eraser, we tested the inks to make sure they are not water soluable. We could then use an Ethanol solution to remove the adhesive from the paper. If some stickyness remained we used finely ground cellulose paper (cellulose powder) to cover the residue, then gently scraped it off.




Step 5: Repair. Now that the tape is off the tears must be repaired.





When sections of a map were missing, we chose a piece of non-acidic, archival paper of similar weight and color. Using arcylic paint, we stained the paper to match the color of the map as closely as possible and then attached the patch with wheat paste.


Most often tears in the maps were repaired using Japanese tissue and wheat paste. When the paper was not very old we used heat-set tissue to repair it. Many of these maps had abundant tears so the repair and patching process often took several days.


Some maps were treated with a de-acidification spray to stop any acidity in the paper from damaging the maps further.




Step 6: Roll onto tubes. The final step was to roll the maps onto tubes with Melinex for transport back to maps. In most cases the maps will be put into large flat files in the Map library, but if the maps were very large they will remain rolled on the tube custom constructed to fit it. If the map was very fragile and would fit in the flat file we were sometimes able to encapsulate these instead of rolling them onto tubes.




Bindery Preparation

The Bindery Preparation unit is responsible for fulfilling the binding needs of all of the Libraries’ collections. We also provide archival quality enclosures for brittle or fragile materials. We do our best to provide thoughtful, cost-effective judgments regarding the handling of all of the collections through good preservation practices.


Contact Megan Lambert 303-492-4834 with questions.


Volume Designation Abbreviations (pdf)


Month Names and Abbreviations (pdf)


Monographs and periodicals are checked to verify that they will withstand the binding process. If they cannot be bound they are referred for preservation assessment or repair.


We perform quality control on all volumes or enclosures returned from the bindery to ensure that they are sound and correctly labeled. All books are bound in accordance with the LBI standard ANSI/NISO/LBI Z39.78-2000.


We do our best to maintain an efficient turnaround time for items being bound or boxed. Please allow between 3-6 months for a title to go through the whole process.


Shelf Preparation

The Shelf Preparation procedures prepare circulating and reference materials for shelving, circulation or transfer to our off-site storage facility, PASCAL. Most items receive a property stamp, a security device and a label with location and call number information.


Newly acquired Library materials also undergo a condition review and are routed to the Book Repair or Bindery Preparation unit for treatment or a protective enclosure before being released.


Contact Michael Dombrowski, 303-735-6026 with questions.



Quick and simple repairs for the general collections such as spine mends, tip-ins, or pamphlet binding are overseen by Megan Lambert, 303-492-4834. Contact her for assistance when “From Repair” is displayed as the item’s status.


Conservation staff provide Intermediate and advanced conservation treatments for both circulating and non-circulating collections. Treatments include a wide range of repairs, archival enclosures of all types, conservation matting, condition assessments and encapsulation of small to medium size flat documents.


Contact Lauren Stapleton, 303-492-6914 or Megan Lambert, 303-492-4834. with questions or assistance in locating items when “PRESERVATION” is displayed as the item’s status.



Preservation Assessment – General Collections


Brittle books and books that cannot be repaired are referred to Preservation by the Circulating Collections Care unit and by Libraries’ faculty or staff. We research the usage, holdings, replacement cost and other factors to make a decision on the best treatment option. Some items are referred to subject specialists for a final decision.


Review Procedure (pdf)


Contact Christine De Vries 303-492-8122 or Lauren Stapleton 303-492-6914


Assessment and Processing


Assessment and Processing reviews of ASC materials for possible treatment needs prior to transfer offsite, provides enclosures, performs preservation processing for materials transferring offsite and maintains the Project Log for ASC preservation projects.

Contact Barbara Nichols 303-492-0934 or Christine De Vries 303-492-8122


Preservation Resource Links (pdf)


Preservation resources is an annotated list of online conservation and preservation resources for training and research. The document includes bookmarks to simplify browsing the sections addressing:


  • Preservation and conservation standards and resources
  • Book repair instructions
  • Personal archiving resources
  • Emergency planning and response


Threats to Collections


Is it mold? (Courtesy of Minitex)


Silverfish & Paper-Destroying Pests (pdf) (Courtesy of The Colonial Williamsburg Foundation)


Silverfish and Firebrats (Courtesy of the University of Minnesota)


Museum Pests.net (Courtesy of Integrated Pest Management Working Group (IPM-WG))




Conservation Needs Assessment Project


Christine De Vries, 303-492-8122
Preservation reported the findings of its detailed conservation needs assessment of the collections throughout the Libraries (2008-2010). Links to completed reports and supplemental information can be accessed at Conservation Needs Assessment Report.