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Preservation Policy

Our commitment to preserving the collections in our care

The collections in the care of the William Salt Library form an essential part of our written heritage and we have a responsibility to preserve the collections in our care for those who come after us. Many items in the Library’s collections are unique and irreplaceable and because of their physical make-up, they are vulnerable to damage. This leaflet explains the aspects of the preservation policy of the Library, which relate to the use of items by members of the public. We ask you to take the time to read it before making a personal visit to the Library.   Your co-operation in helping to ensure their continuing care and survival is much appreciated.

Handling Library Materials

Inadvertent mishandling of printed books, documents and graphic materials can easily result in damage and further deterioration. We ask you to observe the following simple rules, when working in our reading rooms.

1. Pencil only must be used in the reading rooms, except when completing registration cards, signing the visitor's book, readers' tickets and completing copyright declarations. If you forget to bring a pencil with you, they are on sale in our reading rooms.

2. Book rests, foam supports or document cushions must always be used to support large volumes. These will be supplied by the staff on duty who will explain how to use them. If necessary volumes should be held open by the use of book snakes which again will be supplied. Please take particular care with original newspaper volumes which can unbalance book rests.

3. When making notes, please do not lean on or rest notepads or paper on newspapers, documents or volumes.

4. Please take great care when turning the pages of newspapers which can easily catch and tear.

5. Leather-covered map weights should be used to hold flat rolled maps or large documents. These are available in the reading rooms.

6. If you are consulting early parchment documents or early printed volumes or photographs, you will be asked to wear gloves which we will provide. This is because moisture from the hands can rub off ink from a parchment surface or blur the emulsion on a photograph. For the same reason, please avoid running fingers down documents or the pages of volumes.

7. If you are consulting manuscript maps or very large documents, we will ask you to place a sheet of archival polyester or Perspex, which we will supply, over the surface of the item. This is because it is very easy to catch clothing on the edge of the document, especially if it is not in good condition.  Please try to avoid resting your hands on the surface of the document.

8. When tracing documents, a thin sheet of archival polyester, which we will supply, must be placed over the document and a 2B pencil must be used.

9.  Please ask the staff for help when re-tying bundles of loose documents. The documents in a bundle should be carefully aligned before re-tying as tape can easily cut into the edges of documents. Documents should always be refolded along original fold lines. 

10.   Please ensure that printed volumes which are presented in protective boxes are placed back squarely in the box.

11.  No food, including sweets, or drink is allowed into the reading rooms

12. For reasons of security documents and other items should be returned to the staff as soon as you have finished with them. If you go out for coffee or lunch, please return your documents to the staff before you leave the building.

13. Fragile library materials may be withheld from public use on preservation grounds. Readers should also note that it is not always possible to produce every item requested owing to the limitations of the Library building and the health and safety of the staff.

Copying of Library Materials

1. Indiscriminate copying of books and original documents is one of the main causes of mechanical damage to them. For this reason we do not photocopy the following types of Library items:

• Newspapers, manuscript volumes and some early printed volumes.
• Tightly bound printed volumes where placing the volume on a photocopier may cause stitching to break.
• Large maps or other documents of a size greater than 2' x 3'. 
• Documents with multiple membranes or folios attached at the top or bottom of the document.
• Documents and printed books which have undergone extensive conservation work.
If you are uncertain whether any item can be photocopied or not, the staff will be able to advise you.

2. The use of hand held scanners is not permitted.

3.  A hand held camera may be used to take photographs subject to the purchase of a photographic permit. Flash photography is not permitted.

4. Please note that all copying is also subject to current copyright law.


1.  Some newspapers are available in microfilm only. Where this is the case, the microfilm copy must be used in place of the original.

2. For preservation reasons, the Staffordshire Views series has been digitised and this series can only be consulted using the computers in the Library reading rooms.


1. We do not permit smoking in any part of the Library. We should also advise you that, at the William Salt Library, we have a very highly sensitive and responsive smoke detection system in place. This means that even smoking in close vicinity to the exterior of the main entrances, can activate the alarms. If you wish to smoke outside the building therefore, please ensure that you move well away from the entrance.

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