A Library Primer (1899)/Chapter XVIII
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Chapter XVIII, Care of books
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Books of moderate size should stand up on the shelves. Large books keep better if they are laid on their sides; when they stand, the weight of the leaves is a pull on the binding which tends to draw the books out of shape, and sometimes breaks them. Books which stand up should never be permitted to lean over, but should be kept always perfectly erect; the leaning wrenches them out of shape, and soon breaks the binding. A row of books which does not comfortably fill a shelf should be kept up at one end by a book support. There are several good supports on the market. The Crocker is excellent; so is the one described in the Library Bureau catalog.
Books as they come from the dealer are not always perfect. To make sure that their purchases are in good condition some libraries collate all their books as soon as received, that is, look them through with care for missing pages, and injuries of any kind. Imperfect volumes are returned. But save with very expensive books this labor is unnecessary, and doesn't pay. The time spent on it easily amounts to more than the cost of replacing the very few books which may by chance be later found imperfect. In fact, any responsible dealer will usually replace an imperfect copy with a good one even if the former bears a library mark, and has been handled a little.
Use care in cutting pages. Don't cut them with anything but a smooth, dull edge. Cut them at the top close to the fold in the back.
The worst enemies of books are careless people.
Another enemy is damp. It is bad for the binding; it is very bad for the paper.
Gas, with heat, is very destructive to books, especially to the bindings.
Books should occasionally be taken from their shelves and wiped with a soft cloth. The shelves should at the same time be taken down and cleaned thoroughly.
Don't hold a book by one of its covers.
Don't pile up books very high.
Don't rub dust into them instead of rubbing it off.
Don't wedge books tightly into the shelves.
Those who use a public library are all desirous that its books be clean and neat, and with a little encouragement will take pretty good care of them. There are exceptions, of course, and especially among the children. These must be looked after and reasoned with.
Don't cover your books. The brown paper cover is an insult to a good book, a reproach to every reader of it, an incentive to careless handling, and an expense without good return.
A few simple rules like the following can be brought in an unobtrusive way to the attention of those who use the library. Always be sure that the library sets a good example in its handling of books.
Keep books dry.
Do not handle them when the hands are moist; of course never when the hands are soiled.
Use them to read, and for nothing else.
Never mark in them.
Do not turn down their pages.
Do not lay them face downwards.
Do not strap them up tightly.
Never let them fall.
Open them gently.
The book you are reading will go to others. Pass it on to them neat and clean, hoping that they will do the same by you.