The Catholic University of America

Why do library materials deteriorate?


There are two main reasons library materials deteriorate 1) Natural Elements and 2) Human Activity.


Deterioration of library materials caused by natural elements, such as temperature and humidity extremes, light, air-born pollutants, mold and pests, is usually gradual and cumulative, and is always irreversible. Some library materials deteriorate more quickly than others because they are made from materials that are inherently unstable, such as acidic paper. Natural disasters, such as floods or fires, and building problems, such as leaking roofs or dysfunctional HVAC systems, may cause more immediate deterioration.

damaged paper


damaged books

People interacting with library materials in a normal way will cause some inevitable damage. The amount of damage that occurs can be reduced by proper handling. Willful acts that damage library materials, such as underlining and cutting pages out of books, are inexcusable and must not be done.

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