The Vassar College Libraries have over a million volumes that are intended to be handled, read, and used for decades and, in many cases, for centuries to come by our students, faculty, and community. In order to protect this magnificent resource we ask that when you use or borrow a book you please consider the following:
Don’t panic! Despite the precautions listed above book damage does happen. Please bring it to the Circulation Desk at any of the Libraries. Staff there will send it to the Preservation Department for evaluation.
Please do not attempt to fix the book yourself using tape or glue. We have all kinds of evidence of tape damage in the collection—sometimes it's sticky, sometimes the adhesive turns dark yellow and gets very hard, sometimes the carrier falls off and leaves a stain that may have a powdery residue. All are almost impossible to remove. Tape and sticky notes leave a residue that over time may cause permanent damage to materials in our collection and often damage text and paper when removed. It is safer to bag or tie the book to keep the parts together.
Send it to us immediately! Moldy books should first be bagged in a zippered polyethylene bag. Handle moldy items as little as possible.
Books damaged by water can often be successfully salvaged if they are treated right away. Do everything you can to get wet books to the Preservation Department as soon as possible. If we are unavailable, Library staff may plug in the freezer in the conservation lab and place the book into a basket in the freezer. Freezing and even refrigerating stabilizes the condition and keeps the book from getting moldy. (Note to Library staff: Please leave a note or send an email to notify us that you turned the freezer on and that items are waiting for our attention.)
Staff should be vigilant about risks such as mold, pests, chemicals, and biohazards. If there is a suspected high risk involved with handling materials that are returned to the Libraries or are otherwise acquired for our collections, refer to the protocol Handling High-Risk Materials for safety guidelines.
The mission of the Preservation Department is to offer the widest range of services possible given available staff and resources. We offer a broad range of repair and conservation options for both books and flat paper, and we create custom enclosures such as boxes and portfolios. Routine operations performed in-house include cleaning, re-backing, re-casing, pamphlet binding, and page repairs. Resurfacing of DVDs/CD-ROMs and creating enclosures for microfilm and other digital media are also available. If an item cannot be treated in-house we utilize commercial binding and enclosure services.
We strive to repair or enclose items that are being treated in-house in the Preservation Department within 10 business days. If a book is needed by a patron we can usually complete the repair within 2 business days. Any time you need something in a hurry just let us know—we'll do everything we can to help out.
Because of the volume of items that need special attention (mending or enclosures) and the significant number of reclassified items that we process, existing holdings may take longer to process than new accessions. After an item is mended or enclosed, it must then be labeled, have security added, and be inspected before it can be shelved again. Depending on the volume of work and student staffing levels, the processing time can vary, but we strive to process books within 10 business days of repair or enclosure. These items are stored first on relabeling carts and then on reshelving carts in the marking area and are generally prioritized for processing after all new accessions have been processed.
There are three location codes used in Sierra to specify that an item is temporarily unavailable because it is being processed by the Preservation Department:
In addition to having one of the above location codes, some books may also have a note indicating more specific action, location, or previous treatment notes: