Handling documents

Users have a responsibility in helping PRONI to preserve the records by handling the records with care. Mishandling of records is a major cause of deterioration. The effects of mishandling may not appear immediately but can suddenly become obvious, particularly if the record is used often.

Practical advice for safe document handling

  • make sure your hands are clean and dry - wetting fingers (to turn pages) must be avoided
  • for heavy or outsize documents staff are available to help with moving the items to and from the issue desk – just ask if you need help
  • place documents securely onto the table - do not let documents overhang the edges of the table
  • heavy volumes should not be placed on top of other documents/ maps
  • book support cushions are available to support bound volumes
  • do not force a volume to lie flat or leave it open face downwards - book support cushions and leather weights are available from staff
  • for a rolled document leather weights can be placed at both ends of the document for support
  • do not fold, crease or bend any document – care should be taken when turning pages or unfolding documents
  • if pages are stuck together talk to a member of staff - don't try to free or prise apart pages that are stuck together
  • pencils only must be used around documents - pens or typing correction fluid must not be used
  • take care not to mark a book or document; do not lean on a book or document; do not place the paper on which you are writing onto a book or document
  • If paper clips, pins or staples are attached to documents do not try to remove them
  • if documents are held in clear protective sleeves do not remove them
  • take care when removing or replacing documents in envelopes
  • don't re-arrange loose papers
  • gather the document bundles together with care - don't tie document tape too tightly around bundles
  • hold photographic negatives carefully, do not flex/ bend photographic negatives and prints and do not touch them, except at the edges 
  • take care when loading and removing microfilms
  • documents must not be removed from the Reading Rooms or taken out of the building
  • report any document missing or in a fragile condition

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