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When removing a book from a shelf, never pull it from the top of the spine – the head cap. This places a huge amount of stress on the head cap and the top of the joints where the covers are attached. With repeated stress in this area, the spine will become damaged and will begin to tear away.

Volumes stored upright on a shelf should not be allowed to ‘slump’ as damage will be caused to the binding structure. Outsize volumes should be stored flat on a shelf that fully supports them. If several volumes have to be stored this way, alternate the spines so that the spine on the bottom volume will not be crushed by the weight of the others.



There are 3 ways to safely remove a book from a shelf –

  1. If the books are loose on the shelf, push the book either side of the one you want to one side, and then take the required volume by the middle of its spine.
  2. If the books are tightly packed, push back the book either side of the one you want then take the volume by the middle of its spine.
  3. Push the book you want towards you from behind and remove it from the shelf as above.

When consulting an archival volume –

  • Use a clean, folded towel or similar item to cushion the volume whilst it is open to reduce strain on the binding. Follow the text with a piece of acid free paper if necessary.