Cleaning in the Rare Books stack

Cleaning in the Rare Books stack
A peek into the methodical work required to maintain our precious collection
20 September 2013

We have books here; we have millions of books, and like books anywhere, they gather dust. A special project has just begun to protect and prevent further damage to our Rare Books. With the collaboration of the  volunteers at the Library, Preservation staff will be visiting and dusting books in the Rare Book Stack.

Dust on the heads of books

Dust on the heads of books

This initial weekly project will last for 8 weeks. The aim is to prolong the life of all these books. Imagine the dust in your own house; you might not worry so much about dusting your shelves, let alone your own books. After all,  what's a bit of dust? Even for the well used books in the general collection, dust can settle on them; in the rarefied atmosphere of the Rare Books Stack, dust has accumulated on those not so easily or not so well read tomes.  The dust can creep in between the pages, and accumulate in the spine folds.

Bays of books - We are more than half way down this bay, with many more to go.

Bays of books - We are more than half way down this bay, with many more to go.

For three hours a week, the task set before us is to gently brush the three book edges and vaccuum the dust; we also vaccuum and dust the shelves with a micro fibre cloth, before setting the books back to their quiet life.

 Using a brush to gently sweep away dust in the joints of books.

Using a brush to gently sweep away dust in the joints of books.

We are now half way through the timeline of the project, and  about 500 books cleaned. While this might seem a daunting task, it is a fabulous way to get to see a collection.

Duts busted at the end of 4 weeks.

Dust busted at the end of 4 weeks.