How to Care for Your Library Materials

One of the greatest ways to get a bunch of librarians talking is to ask them what they have found inside of returned materials. My favorites have been a slice of cheese inside a book, a pancake in a DVD case, and a kitten in a backpack. Do not worry, the kitten is fine! While these stories are funny, library materials are meant to be enjoyed by all and to do that they need to be in good condition. Normal wear and tear are expected, but you, as customers, can help extend the life of materials by following these tips below.



Don’t: Leave materials in your backpack or diaper bag.  Something can easily spill and damage the items if you forget they are there. Additionally, bent and torn pages can more easily happen to paperback books if they are crushed in a bag. I once found a, thankfully unused, diaper stuffed inside a book; talk about a momentary freak out!

Don’t: Leave your items outside, or exposed to the elements. Mold can grow on damp items which is considered billable damage. Also, too much sun exposure can damage discs.

Do: Have a shelf or table dedicated to library materials. Make sure to keep this shelf out of reach of pets and small children. This keeps your library materials safe and in one place, so you do not have to search the whole house when returning.


Where to Read

Don’t: Eat while reading your library books. I know it can be temping, but food consumption around library materials is discouraged; once a bowl of tomato soup is spilled on a book, there is no returning it. Take extra caution while drinking as well. You will notice at the public desks, all our drinking receptacles have closed tops to avoid spilling anything.

Don’t: Take your book to the beach or in the bath. All it takes is one slip, and into the bathwater a book goes. Beach sand gets stuck everywhere, and it is often wet. Choosing to use an E-book instead is a convenient and safe way to enjoy that beach read.

Do: Read in your chair, couch, bed, table, hammock, coffee shop, or even outside with caution.



Don’t: Dog ear pages. This causes pages to rip and tear and check-in staff has to spend time folding back the pages.

Don’t: Use unsanitary items as bookmarks. Please be sure what you are using as a bookmark is safe. Items not appropriate would be (all examples of real things found in books) band-aids, toothpicks, a used mask, a slice of cheese, or a napkin.

Do: Use the due-date or hold slips given at the library. These are handy, recyclable, and tell you when to bring your items back.

Do: Use any kind of actual bookmark. Magnet, fabric, paper, and plastic bookmarks are all awesome for keeping your place saved.

Note: Remember to take your bookmark out when you are finished. We can often catch a bookmark returned in a book and save it for you, but not always.


General Care

Don’t: Draw or mark on library pages. Again, we want everyone to enjoy the books, and your class notes on The Scarlet Letter might not be enjoyable to all. Also, check-in staff will have to spend time erasing any marks.

Do: Bring the book to the library and make copies of any pages or recipes you would like to keep for yourself.

Don’t: Break into your locked DVD case. It can be frustrating to realize that you forgot to unlock your DVD and now cannot watch it. However, a broken or damaged case is a $5 replacement fee.

Do: Bring the DVD back to the library and have a staff member unlock it or use the self-check stations. This happens multiple times every day and we do not mind. We would much rather have you come back in than break the case.

Don’t: Try to repair any damage on your own. There are special kinds of glue, tape and other products that are specific to fix library materials to ensure they last and do not damage the item further.

Don’t: Buy a replacement copy. We cannot accept outside purchases as replacement copies.

Do: Bring the item back and tell a staff member about the damage. Issues like a torn page or loose binding will not be charged and can be sent to the workroom to repair and recirculate.

Do: Let library staff know if you notice damage you did not cause. This will be noted so we know you did not cause it and accidentally charge you.

Don’t: Leave money in your items to pay for fines. It is not always guaranteed the money will make it back to the correct account. Money found at the bottom of a check-in bin has no way of being matched up.

Do: Come to the Circulation Desk to pay fines with cash or check, or pay online with a card.


Hopefully these tips are helpful and we can all work together to keep our library materials looking great. After all, we are soon to be in a beautiful new building and need our materials to match. Enjoy!


Questions about care of library materials or damaged items? Contact our Circulation Services team at 715-839-5003 or, or consult our library’s policy for lost or damaged items.


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