Proper Handling of Books, Documents, and Photographs (Video)

General guidelines outlined in this video

  1. Handle books, photographs, and other paper items as little as possible. The more these items are handled, the greater the likelihood of damage.
  2. Do not hurry.
  3. Keep pens and sharp items away from books, photographs, and other paper items.
  4. Use pencils for note taking; ink from pens may cause permanent damage.
  5. Do not use paperclips, sticky notes, or rubber bands.
  6. Do not eat or drink around books, photographs, and other paper items.
  7. If a photograph is in a protective sleeve, leave the photograph in the sleeve for protection during research.
  8. Before touching books or paper items, or when directly handling photographs:
    1. Determine whether your hands are properly protected.
      1. Books and paper items are usually more safely handled by clean bare hands. 
      2. When handling photographs, gloves should be worn.
    2. When using gloves, be sure they are clean and change them as often as necessary.
    3. When not using gloves, hands should be clean and washed regularly, about every hour. Hand lotion should not be used.
    4. Don’t touch eyes, nose, hair, etc. with hands, including gloved hands.
    5. Remove jewelry, name badges, buckles, or loose clothing that may damage the item.
    6. Examine the item carefully and learn its strengths and weaknesses. 
    7. Items in folders should be handled on the sides so that documents will not slide out the sides.
  9. When lifting books, paper items, or photographs:
    1. Use both hands if necessary.
    2. Carry only the number of items that can be comfortably held in both hands.
    3. When selecting a book from a shelf, do not pull the book off of the shelf by its headcap. Instead, if there is room above the book, reach over the top of the book and pull back from the fore edge. If there is no room above the book, push the two books on either side of the desired book back slightly on the shelf and take your book off of the shelf by the middle of its spine.
    4. After removing books from shelves, readjust bookends to ensure the other shelved books have proper support.
  10. When moving or working with books, paper items, or photographs:
    1. Support all items while in transit by making use of a carrying tray (for small items), rigid supports (for flat items), or a cart (for heavy or large items or for multiple items).
    2. No part of the item should protrude beyond the edges of the container or cart.
    3. Lay items flat, as this is their most stable position.
    4. Never slide items across a table or across any surface that might abrade them.


For more videos like this, go to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints’ Church History page.

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