Special Collections at Bradford offers a range of materials to help staff and readers handle fragile objects carefully. For example, the Clarkson Book Support System, which we call the Foam Family. The System was designed by conservator Christopher Clarkson with Polyformes (also available from other conservation supply firms). The foam wedges range in size from mini to massive and help support open volumes so their spines aren’t broken. We also offer booksnakes and weights, to hold down maps and other rolled items without damage. Pencils avoid damage from ink; cotton gloves keep photographs free of sweat.
Special Collections staff teach our visitors how to handle original archives and rare books with understanding and respect. This is part of our preservation policy. Special Collections, like most organisations, has very limited funding available for conservation work on individual items. So we rely on preservation: simple, cost-effective ideas which prevent damage to collections occurring in the first place.