Training Students - YouTube Preservation Videos

This year the Preservation Committee will be scouring YouTube for videos that show good preservation techniques on different topics related to the preservation of library materials.  This semester, the videos are related to training students and staff on the care of books.

Some videos simply strive to present the information as directly as possible:

This brief video from Middlebury College is a quick (1:51 minutes) review of how to handle library materials.

Information in the video includes how to remove books from shelves without harming the spine, to use bookends to keep items upright on shelves, to leave materials for staff to reshelve, and to photocopy without harming older materials. The video also reminds users to care for library materials in their possession by not writing or using highlighters on books, using protective cases for media such as DVDs, taking care not to spill food or drink or allowing children or pets to deface the items.

The following short video from SIUC (46 seconds) provides some quick tips on the proper method for removing a book from the shelf.

The main thing to avoid is pulling the book from the shelf using a finger over the top of the spine. Over time, this will damage the spine. The correct way to remove a book is to slightly push in the volumes on either side, and grasp the book in the middle. This very short video teaches a very simple technique that would prevent the need for countless repairs. If users only learn one tip on better book handling, this would certainly be a good one.

From Yale, a 28:01 minute “filmstrip” from 1980 still provides excellent background and instruction.

The filmstrip begins with a brief history of paper and book-making, emphasizing the decline in the quality of books produced after the advent of the printing press and industrial paper production techniques. Of particular interest: the problems introduced when acid was added to the paper-making process. As librarians of course know, books made with acidic paper slowly degrade and eventually disintegrate. The filmstrip also covers the effects of environmental conditions (heat, light, and moisture) on library collections; proper handling and shelving procedures for library staff members; the importance of having clean hands when handling books; considerations for proper storage and handling of microfilm; proper photocopying techniques; damage caused by food, pets, and children; the perils of book drops; and more. If time allows, this would be a great movie to show to new library workers.

Other videos attempt, with varying degrees of success, to be cute or clever, to mimic the conventions of feature films, or to convey preservation information in other entertaining ways:

This Sherlock Holmes inspired video from Columbia University (14:01 minutes) presents a lot of useful information, but its production values leave something to be desired.

As Holmes and Watson explore the library stacks, the detective shows his friend how to properly shelve materials, teaches him about the degradations of acidic paper, the harm that eating in the library can cause to books, why paper clips should never be used in books, and many other pointers. Although it is a bit silly, it may be a fun way to teach new student workers proper handling methods.

“Preservation Faux Pas,” apparently from Kansas State University (2:35 minutes), mimics an early silent film.

Familiar book handling pointers include: don’t write or use a highlighter, food and drinks should be handled carefully, turn pages carefully, and of course, do not tear out pages, and keep pets away! The reference to Lady Chatterley is cute; the incident with the “dog” is not so cute, but it does make an important point.

And finally, let’s conclude with a little comic relief.  Here is Mr. Bean demonstrating, as only he can, how not to handle a rare book:

These videos represent only a small selection of all the preservation-related videos available on YouTube.  In several cases, more good content is available online from the institutions that produced the above content.  Any or all of these could potentially be useful in preservation training of library staff and the public.

Written by David Bell, Eastern Illinois University