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

  1. Make sure your hands are clean and dry.  Wetting fingers (to turn pages) must be avoided.
  2. 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.
  3. Place documents securely onto the table - do not let documents overhang the edges of the table.
  4. Heavy volumes should not be placed on top of other documents/maps.
  5. Book support cushions are available to support bound volumes.
  6. Do not force a volume to lie flat or leave it open face downwards  Book support cushions and leather weights are available from staff.
  7. For a rolled document leather weights can be placed at both ends of the document for support.
  8. Do not fold, crease or bend any document – care should be taken when turning pages or unfolding documents.
  9. If pages are stuck together talk to a member of staff. Do not try to free or prise apart pages that are stuck together.
  10. Pencils only must be used around documents.  Pens or typing correction fluid must not be used.
  11. 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.
  12. If paper clips, pins or staples are attached to documents do not try to remove them.
  13. If documents are held in clear protective sleeves do not remove them.
  14. Take care when removing or replacing documents in envelopes.
  15. Do not re-arrange loose papers.
  16. Gather the document bundles together with care.  Do not tie document tape too tightly around bundles.
  17. Hold photographic negatives carefully, do not flex/bend photographic negatives and prints and do not touch them, except at the edges. 
  18. Take care when loading and removing microfilms.
  19. Documents must not be removed from the Reading Rooms or taken out of the building.
  20. Report any document missing or in a fragile condition.

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