Skip to main content
King County logo

Materials in the Research Center get a lot of use, and it can catch up with the materials over time. Many day-to-day activities can have a harmful impact on library materials, even if they're okay to use on your personal documents. Many of our documents are irreplaceable, and we want to make sure that they are available for generations to come. Here is some information about what you can do to help preserve Research Center materials.

Preserving technical documents

  • Use bookmarks instead of sticky notes, paperclips, marking pens, or rubber bands. Paper clips rust over time and permanently mark pages. Pens (particularly markers) can bleed and obscure information in the document. Rubber bands will damage brittle or fragile paper and cause it to break. Do not fold page corners. Page corner folding will also cause pages to break over time. Sticky notes leave adhesive residues that darken, harden and become brittle over time.
  • Remove bookmarks after use.
  • Keep pages in order when rebinding.
  • Hands should be clean and dry before handling paper items, since oils from fingers can cause staining on the paper.
  • Avoid using food and drink when handling items. Even small particles of food can stain documents over time. Food residue left on documents that are placed back into the collection can attract pests which may contaminate the entire environment.
  • Use a pencil whenever possible when working with documents. Accidental marking with inks is permanent and will damage the document's usefulness for future users.

Preserving microfiche

  • Always handle microfiche from the edges. Oils from fingerprints can be damaging.
  • Return microfiche to their protective enclosures as soon as possible after use.
  • Minimize the amount of time that microfiche is left in the microfiche reader/printer. Fiche can be damaged by the heat from the light bulb.

Preserving audiovisual materials

  • Use care when handling CDs and videotapes. Oils and dirt from hands can damage the surface of the CD ROMs causing them to become unusable.
  • Keep CDs in a protective case when not in use. UV light can damage the metallic undercoating of the CD and cause it to lose reflectivity and become unreadable.
  • Store CDs and videos at a constant, moderate temperature. Temperature fluctuations can cause warping, cracking or distortions in CD and video mediums. Avoid leaving CDs or videos in an environment where they will be exposed to heat, including cars.

For questions about the Technical Document & Research Center, please contact Dawn Duddleson, Librarian, Science and Technical Support Section.