Related product Collections Management

Beyond the Book: Preserving your Non-Book Collections

5 photo highlights from articles below

Project Overview

Most libraries contain collections that consist primarily of bound volumes and archival papers. The steps for preserving these items are fairly well documented, and we all try to the best of our abilities to care for our collections. Those of us who are new to the field can readily find information about preserving these materials. And those of us who are veterans try to keep up with new techniques and findings. It’s a fairly well-worn path. But what do you do when you encounter something off of this beaten path? What do you do about the unusual things in your collections? We all have them. They might be statues or medals, costumes or hats, ceramics, board games, or even food items. They might also be large collections of glass plate negatives or scrapbooks. What environmental conditions do these items require? Do they need special handling or housing? In short, how do you care for the non-book items in your collection?

Throughout the 2018-2019 academic year the CARLI Preservation Committee wrote a series of preservation tips that culminated in this website of beyond the book resources. Each newsletter tip focused on an unusual item or group of similar items that you might encounter in your collection. Each author recounted their own story about an unusual item they have encountered in their collection, the challenges these items presented, and how they ultimately decided to best preserve that item or items. Where it is relevant, they will also provide places to find more information or best practices. The more we know about how to preserve non-book items, the better our decision making can be. 

-- Ann Lindsey, Head of Conservation, The University of Chicago Library  

Board Games and Materials with Multiple Parts 

Preserving board games is not always as simple as putting the box on a shelf. They contain many parts constructed from different kinds of materials.  The goal is to protect and preserve the integral parts of the game by safely storing them all together, preferably in one enclosure. This article discusses the preservation enclosure created for the board game Blacks and Whites: The Role Identity & Neighborhood Action Game published by Psychology Today in 1970. Nora Gabor, Rare Books Librarian, DePaul University.

Maps and Blueprints

Even though maps and blueprints are primarily paper and require the same care and consideration as other paper materials they still pose their own unique challenges. They do not have a binding or protective cover and their size, storage and how they are used pose unique challenges. This article highlights preservation work done for 19th century maps and blueprints used on a construction site. Susan Howell, Southern Illinois University Carbondale & William Schlaack, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.


Although the first patent for microfilm dates from 1859 it was not used on a large-scale in the United States until 1935. This article looks at the best practices for the care and handling of modern and contemporary microfilm. It also highlights nitrate, acetate and polyester films and provides one librarian’s first-hand experience with nitrate film. Ann Lindsey, The University of Chicago Library & William Schlaak, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.


Many libraries own paintings that may be part of a collection, a donation, or part of the institution’s history. Some of the preservation concerns are the same as for other library materials such as providing a stable environment without fluctuating temperatures and humidity. Paintings present their own unique set of challenges because they are hung in public spaces and may be difficult to store. This article demonstrates how some of these challenges were met for the painting Matrix by artist Oli Sihvonen. Tonia Grafakos, Marie A. Quinlan Director of Preservation, Northwestern University.

Photographs - General Overview

There is not a one size fits all preservation strategy for photographs. They may be commonly held in library and archival collections but their chemical composition demand special care that goes beyond typical preservation environments. This article provides an overview of the necessary basics of photograph preservation and highlights resources devoted to their care. Meghan Ryan, Special Collections and Cataloging Librarian, National Louis University.

Photographs - Glass Plate Images

The same general preservation guidelines that apply to all photographic collections also apply to glass plate images. This article discusses the unique preservation needs of glass plate images in terms of their storage and handling. “Glass plate image” is used as a catch-all phrase to include all images on a glass base. Emma Saito Lincoln, Special Collections Librarian, Augustana College.


Scrapbooks are unique items that may contain a wide variety of materials including photographs, cards, newspaper clippings, pressed flowers, and art work. The diversity of the materials can present daunting preservation challenges. This article highlights some of the problems conservators must address. Mary Burns, Special Collections Catalog Librarian, Northern Illinois University & Meghan Ryan, Special Collections and Cataloging Librarian, National Louis University.


The general principles of preservation involving environmental control, pest management and preventive conservation also apply to textile collections. However, the storage needs of textiles and their fragility make their preservation requirements distinct from book and paper collections. This article explains some of the techniques used to preserve a pair of autographed shoes worn in a Broadway production and a World War I Band uniform. Emma Saito Lincoln, Special Collections Librarian, Augustana College.

In-Person Events

The CARLI Preservation Committee hosted two preservation events in support of this project: Choosing and Constructing Protective Enclosures for Library Materials workshop held at the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum on May 8, 2019 and Conservation Lab Open Houses at the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and the Illinois State Military Museum on June 7, 2019. Attendees at the protective enclosures workshop learned what to consider when choosing appropriate housings, built wrappers for thin books, and built e-flute clamshell boxes. Photos, presentation slides, and step-by-step instructions for building enclosures are shared in this full article. Attendees of the conservation lab open houses learned how the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and the Illinois State Military Museum are conserving unique materials in their collections including: a U.S. Civil War violin, a child’s hand-painted tea set, military flags, coats, helmets, and other items. Learn more about how the institutions conserve and house these materials and view photos in this full article.