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Handling High-Risk Materials


These are recommended procedures for staff who encounter materials returned to the Circulation desk, found in book returns, or discovered in the stacks that are, or are suspected of being:

  • Wet
  • Moldy
  • Infested with insects
  • Treated with chemicals (e.g. insect spray, gasoline, Lysol)
  • Otherwise unsafe to handle (e.g. biohazards)


If the patron is present, find out what you can about the suspected nature of the problem.

If the materials are returned in a plastic bag, leave them in the bag. Otherwise immediately put them into a zippered polyethylene bag and seal it tightly. Use disposable gloves if necessary. (Bags and gloves can be found in the Disaster Kits. To replenish any of the Disaster Kit items, contact the Preservation Department.)

If you suspect that there is a health or safety risk do NOT circulate or reshelve the item. Bring it to a supervisor immediately.

Make a note of the patron’s ID number and list the affected titles, if possible. Notify your supervisor of the problem.

Call the Preservation Department at 437-7347 or bring to the department to be assessed - Monday through Friday, 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m or until 4:30 during winter, spring or summer breaks.

If the book is wet and/or moldy and you cannot contact Preservation staff, freeze or refrigerate the book in a zippered polyethylene bag to stabilize and slow the development of mold.

If the affected library materials are not located in the Main Library, work with the Preservation staff to arrange transport to the Preservation Department.

Preservation staff will examine the materials and report back with details once the problem has been identified and will advise as to whether the materials can be salvaged or must be disposed of.