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UWM Music Library Student Employee Guide: Handling
Library Materials

Training Resources for new student workers in the Music & Curriculum Library

Basic Shelving & Handling

As library employee, in fact as a UWM student, part of your job is to help our materials last as long as possible. Even if you aren't responsible for shelving or repair of materials, you'll still be using them and as you do so, you can keep an eye out for these things and bring them the attention of your supervisors.

Things to look for

Books should be on the shelf firmly, but not tightly, packed. There still needs to be some room to retrieve the book without causing damage.

Books should never be pulled off the shelf by the top of the spine like this



















If they are too tightly packed on the shelf, push the book on either side of the one you want in a little bit so that you can grab the body of the book. Like this


In other words:


Fore-edge Shelving

The other thing that you should never do is shelve books spine up, or what is called "fore-edge shelving." This causes the text block to to tear away from the book's cover and eventually it will need to be rebound.

This what it will eventually look like... not a happy book





There are many things that can damage a book. From being improperly shelved (as we've already seen) to bugs to dogs to water, which can lead to mould.

Keep your eyes open for these things as you use them.


Water Damage

Water damage comes in many types. Most of the time it is a little water around the edge of the book, which often doesn't destroy it altogether, but is nonetheless not good. A book like this one can usually be sent out for rebinding, and the edges will be trimmed to remove as much of the damage as possible.


But a book that gets very wet and is left to sit can end up looking like this. It may be able to be treated, but most likely it will be discarded because otherwise it will infect other books. (honestly? in 20+ years as a librarian, I don't think I've ever seen one this bad)



The type of book that is paricularly vulnerable to water are picture and artbooks that have a special 'clay-coated' type of paper that makes the colors stand out so beautifully. Those pages will stick together and tear layers off when you try to open them once they've dried. If you run across one of these when it is still wet, try to stand it up and fan the pages out... slip paper towels between the pages if you can. If you're at home and it's your book? put paper towels between the pages and put it in your freezer! (yes, really)



Dog Bites Book

(no, the irony of the title I used is not lost on me... yes, this is from the UWM Curriculum Collection and happened within the last 6 months)


and... last but not least... BUGS!

Bugs do cause damage to books... though often they are long-gone by the time you see it. This is what a silverfish can do to a book.



But the other thing that has been showing up is... bed bugs... The UWM Libraries has traps scattered around the building & all gift books are now run through our 'cooker.' 

I don't want to make you all  start itching by showing you what they look like, but you should google it at some point, so that you know... just in case.

This is what the traps look like. If you see one, leave it where it is!



And this is what the 'cooker' looks like. It is kept in Shipping & Receiving, so you will probably never see it.






There are several common misconceptions about CDs and DVDs. One is that they are indestructable. Another is how to actually hold them.


They are not indestructable. They can be scratched, damaged by solvents, and also they can just degrade.

Most people think that you should set a CD down with the label side down & the clear side up. This is actually wrong. This image shows you why. The label layer, which is very thin, is the closest thing to the layer that has the content recorded on it... so if you set it down and there is something that might scratch it - i.e. leave a hole where light might escape through - you end up with an unplayable disc. Whereas the 'clear' side is actually a very thick layer of plastic and it can be buffed if it's scratched. 


There are a couple of other things that can happen to CDs & DVDs. In the early 90s there was a bad batch of discs made that had problem called "bronzing" in which the layers turned a color that made it so they would not play. If you ever want to hear what a bronzed disc sounds like, stop by and ask the Music Librarian... we have a few.

This is what it looks like

And the other is CD Rot. Noone really knows why this happens (I don't think) but it seems to be that the disc was not properly sealed and moisture gets between the layers. This is what it looks like





The UWM Libraries has "Folio" or oversized shelving at the end of each major call number range. The call number on the book will indicated that it should be shelved in that section.


If you see a book on the shelf that is clearly 'crammed in' and you suspect it should be shelved in the folio section, look at the call number for the (Fol) and pull it out of its improper spot. Do not reshelve it, though! Put it in a shelving bin, so that the item can be properly assessed by the Circulation staff - it might need repair or it might have been tagged as lost in the system because someone went looking for it and couldn't find it.

The Music Library has folio shelving that is a little bit different from what you'll see in other parts of the building, but just so you know. You'll see that we have room for some scores to lay flat because they are very, very big and won't stand up properly.


I'll be putting links to a selection of good resources here. Please check back.

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