Preservation and Processing


The following manual may be used as a reference tool in order to maintain consistent procedures in Materials Processing. The procedures herein have been approved by the Materials Processing Specialist and any significant deviation from these procedures should be approved by same.

Handling materials carefully - general guidelines.

Damage to books is gradual and cumulative. The care with which a book or media item is handled by patrons and library staff members directly effects its longevity; proper handling and storage can prolong the life of a library's collection.

1. Appropriate shelving for items of ordinary size:

  • Smooth, solid shelves; no jagged edges or protruding screws
  • All items upright, resting on their base
  • Bookends for shelves that are not full
  • Full shelves that are not too loosely or too tightly packed
  • All books on shelves that are a minimum of 4" above the floor

2. Appropriate shelving for oversize books:

  • Broad fixed shelves
  • All books flat, if possible, with no more than three or four volumes on top of each other
  • No protrusion of books into aisles

3. Appropriate removal of books:

  • Ease books on either side of the desired volume further back on the shelf
  • Grasp exposed book by the sides with the whole hand
  • Readjust the bookend

4. Appropriate replacement of books:

  • Loosen bookend
  • Move books on shelf to create a space
  • Reinsert book in the space
  • Readjust the bookend

5. Transport of books:

- Use a book truck that is easily maneuverable and has wide shelves or protective rails to secure the items in transit

- Load the book truck so that

  • books are upright
  •  books are not protruding beyond the edges of the truck
  • the center of gravity on the loaded truck is low
  • partially filled rows are supported by bookends

6. General handling of books:

  • Keep hands clean
  • Avoid food, drink, or smoking materials in close proximity of books
  • Support covers when book is open
  • Avoid forcing books to open further than they open easily
  • Avoid the use of paper clips in the text

7. General handling of DVDs and CDs:

  • Avoid touching playing surfaces
  • Handle discs by the outer edge or the center hole.
  • Return discs to storage cases immediately after use.
  • Keep dirt or other matter from the disc.
  • Remove dirt, fingerprints, smudges and liquids by wiping with a clean, dry, cotton cloth in a straight line from the center of the disc toward the outer edge.

Damage to books and media is cumulative. Repeated poor handling can quickly transform a new book into a worn book, and a worn book into an unusable book that requires costly repair or replacement. Proper use of books by each individual prolongs the life of a library's entire collection.


The Materials Processing unit processes new materials after they are cataloged and bar-coded. The importance of accuracy in this processing cannot be overstated. Because it is important that the book is physically appealing, all book plates should be evenly placed on the page and all stamps should be straight and located so they are aesthetically pleasing. Most importantly, all spine labels must be exactly correct. If a spine label is even a little bit wrong, a book could be misshelved and lost for decades. Literally. Therefore always pay close attention to the details and don't "zone out" when processing new materials.

Starting the process

(This part of the process is routinely done by CM staff, not Student Processing Assistants.)

Pick up the blue cart of cataloged items from the designated spot in LIB133 daily or as needed. Only the top two shelves of the cart are routinely used. It's polite to replace the cart with an empty one for the convenience of the technical services staff.

"Edit" the cart and set aside all items that should receive physical treatment. (Refer to the "New Materials to be Treated" list for details.)  If there's room on the cart, add items from the "to be labeled" shelves near LIB135C.  Once the cart has been edited and items have been added to it, tape a slip of scrap paper to the cart with the date written on it.  All carts should be processed in chronological order so that the "first in" is the "first out".

New Materials to be Treated

Anything with a blue P+P/bindery slip

Faculty Author Collection  (All books, hardcover books with dust jackets so jacket can be attached, and paperback books too.) Browsing Collection hardcover books with a dust jacket.

Paperback Books-

All N class


Vermont Collection (unless otherwise noted)

Any paperback book that is very large, very small, or very flimsy.


Media formats that need additional packaging (Loose CDs or disks, CDs going to the stacks or browsing collection , etc.).  Also remove DVDs that need to have their cardboard cover photocopied to convert it to a sleeve for the locking case.

Producing labels

Note: ask supervisor for computer log-in and password.  .

  • Turn the Zebra printer on using the toggle switch on the back.
  • Open the Millennium Client, (also known as III or “triple eye”), by clicking once on the icon on the “quick launch” toolbar. (ask supervisor for username and password)  When III opens the “Index” pull down menu will be highlighted. Type “B” for barcode. The Index will change to “barcode” and the cursor will tab to the empty box to the right.
  • Scan the barcode on the piece that you need a label for. The item record will open in a new window. Hit the F11 key. A new window “Modify Monographic Labels” will open in which you can, (you guessed it!), modify the label.  Here you may reformat the lines to match standard format but you may not change the content of the call number. The most common modification is to add a "prefix" above the call number. Compare the cutter line written in the item to the cutter line shown on the screen.  If the content of the call number does not match that written in the item, cancel the printing, write a brief note describing the problem, and set the item aside to be reviewed by your supervisor. When the label is formatted correctly hit F12 to print the label.   Note: if this is the first label of the session, an extra window will open and you’ll need to select “Local Printer” and select "Print", and then when a second extra window opens select "OK" to print to the Zebra printer.

To use the shortcut keys to add the prefix, click with the mouse in the yellow area of the “modify Monographic labels” window to make it the active window, then use the shortcuts in combination with the shift key.

Repeat step b. until you’ve produced all the labels you need.

Note: the official location prefixes can be seen here.  

Applying labels and marking items

Mark the items, taking them from the cart in the order of the strip of labels.  All loose parts in pockets of cases should be marked for ownership.  See separate instructions for marking media items.

Faculty Author Collection and selected items going to the Browsing Collection: if hardcover with dust jacket, the dust jacket is lined with Mylar and permanently attached to the book then label and barcode attached to jacket.  

See separate section in this manual for details on processing media items.

  1. place the appropriate book plate inside the front cover, centered and even. (Some books may already have a gift book plate and some may have one slipped into a page for you to insert.)  Books for the Davison Library, and Armstrong Library have different book plates.   All other books get the Davis Family Library book plate unless the plate would obscure important information (maps, tables, etc.) and then the plate may be placed on the first page or omitted.
  2. stamp the title page neatly with the large Middlebury College Library stamp.
  3. place a security strip in each book according to instructions.
  4. proofread the spine label against the call number in the book to be sure you are putting the correct label on the book and that the prefix, if any, is accurate. Using the jig place the spine label on the spine. The top of the label should be 2.5 inches from the bottom of the spine EXCEPT ON THOSE REFERENCE BOOKS WHERE IT WOULD OBSCURE IMPORTANT INFORMATION (like volume or year designations). The entire label must be clearly legible. If the label will not fit on the spine of the book, place it on the front cover at the same level, and 1/4 inch in from the spine edge. If the label does not firmly adhere to the book add the clear overlay to firmly hold it in place.  For Browsing Books, place the spine label at the very bottom of the spine.
  5. stamp the bottom left corner of the last page "Not to be taken from the library" if the item is going to Ref or if there is a pink "lib use only" flag in it.
  6. stamp edges with the small Middlebury College Library stamp so it can be read when the book is laying face up on a table.

Distributing processed items

Distribute items to appropriate locations: Armstrong Library books should be left at the curved part of the table for the supervisor to send to MBH.   (Protect fragile media cases in transit by placing rubber bands around multiple items to make a solid group. 

Ask your supervisor about clumps of materials going to non-library places like the Scott Center or CSO.

All other library books remain on the cart and are brought to the Circulation Desk.

Media labeling and marking

A “Zebra” label is the kind that goes on books and is produced on the Zebra Printer.  A “P-touch” label is the kind that goes on some media and is produced on the P-touch printer.  A completed sample for each category of processing is near the processing work station so please refer to those as needed. If media is inside a protective case, then the exterior case should get the spine label, not the interior one.  The barcode is put on the inside of the case and if there's an insert the barcode it put on the insert. Labels for different formats are added, usually by the cataloger, to notify the user of different equipment needs. Blu-rays go in Blu-ray cases. Apply "Milti-regional player required" sticker to spine on sleeve as needed.

DVDs and Blu-rays

The default location for DVDs and Blu-rays is the DVD collection in the center of the Main Lvl of Davis Library. Other locations like "Media (Circ Desk)", "Armstrong Media", "Vt. Coll", or "Stacks"  will be indicated by a green location flag. Stickers to indicate a less common format (Multi region) are usually put on by the cataloger but are sometimes applied (to the sleeve toward the top of the spine leaving room for 3-Day load sticker if appropriate) in processing. Blu-rays go in Blu-ray cases.  

For DVD Collection:

  • Do not apply security overlay to DVD itself.
  • Put in locking case if it isn't in one already. Reissue barcode to new case as needed.
  • Produce Zebra label.
  • Apply Zebra label to spine except for specific call numbers in PN class--  (refer to chart with list of specific call numbers) then apply selin label to front cover and produce an additional p-touch label of just the cutter and apply it to the bottom of the spine and apply a colored label overlay per list on chart.
  • Apply "3-Day Loan" sticker to top of spine on sleeve under plastic.  Adjust placement as needed to avoid covering the title.
  • Apply security strip according to instructions from supervisor.

If designated for the stacks:

  • May be placed either in a pocket in the book, or in a separate locking DVD case with separate item record.
  • If left in pocket in book, apply a security overlay to DVD itself per instructions, or if put in a locking case apply security strip to spine inside of paper sleeve.
  • Apply "3-Day Loan" sticker to top of spine on sleeve under plastic.
  • Prefix on spine label should be "Stacks" or "Vt. Coll", etc., if in a separate DVD case. (not necessary if in pocket in book)

For Armstrong Library Media at Circ Desk:

  • Do not apply security overlay to DVD itself.
  • Put in locking case if it isn't in one already. Reissue barcode to new case as needed.
  • Apply Selin label on spine with prefix "Armstrong Media"
  • Apply "3-Day Loan" sticker to top of spine on sleeve under plastic. Adjust placement as needed to avoid covering the title.
  • Apply security strip according to instructions from supervisor.

For Media Collection at Davis Circulation Desk:

  • Do not apply security overlay to DVD.
  • Do not apply "3-Day Loan" sticker.
  • Put in locking case if it isn't in one already.  Reissue barcode to new case as needed.
  • Produce and apply P-touch label to bottom of spine with "Media" as the prefix.
  • Apply security strip according to instructions from supervisor.

For Mills College summer program

  • Apply Zebra spine label wiht prefix Mills to bottom left of front cover.
  • Apply security strip according to instructions from supervisor.

Audio CDs 

For CD collection behind Circ Desk by default-

Music CDs are shelved by acqusition number. The number should be formatted: CD 12,345  

  • Kept in original jewel case or cardboard case.  (If no case, put in jewel case.)
  • Apply Zebra label to spine: inside of jewel case or on cardboard case with label protector per example.
  • Apply security strip according to instructions from supervisor.

If designated for the stacks:

  • May be placed either in pocket in book or in a separate jewel case with separate item record.
  • Apply security overlay per instructions
  • If single CD on it’s own, place in jewel case and then put jewel case in a pamphlet binder slipcase. Slipcase should get a spine labe but the jewel case does not.
  • If multiple CDs in a case and if case is substantial, simply process it like a book for the stacks. If case is flimsy or broken, put audio CDs in a new album case or CD-ROMs in multiple disk jewel case. Request spine title from supervisor.


Shelved in the stacks near Gov Docs by default.

  • Put cassette in plastic case (retain carboard sleeve if it fits in plastic case.)
  • P-touch label on spine
  • no security strip


Shelved in the stacks by default-

  • May be placed either in a pocket in the book, or in a separate jewel case with separate item record.
  • Apply security overlay per instructions
  • If single CD-Rom on it’s own without a book, place in jewel case and then put jewel case in a pamphlet binder slipcase. Slipcase should get a selin spine label but the jewel case does not.

Repackaging Media


When a DVD arrives with a cardboard case and therefore doesn't have a sleeve for the locking case, the original cardboard case is photocopied in color to create a sleeve. Chapter lists are saved when possible and we sometimes use the cardboard cover itself as an insert for the case, and sometimes photocopy parts of the original cardboard case back to back to create an insert. When things like episode titles are on the DVDs themselves we tend not to bother creating an additional insert, but when there's little or no info on the DVDs we try to preserve the chapter list information and keep it with the item. Sometimes the original case was clear plastic and important information on the interior of the case was meant to be ready through from the inside. In those cases we photocopy the sleeve and use the photocopy in the exterior of the case and trim the original sleeve down to create an insert. Use common sense and make the repackaged item as attractive and useful as possible without going to extreme measures.


Audio CDs going to the stacks are placed in a pamphlet binder box. Audio CDs going to the Browsing Collection are placed in larger plastic CD cases and the original graphics are photocopied to create an attractive sleeve for the case.

If there's no original case to be copied for either CDs or DVDs/Blu-rays then the title is printed on a piece of paper to create the sleeve.

"Preservation" copies of VHS tapes:

When the VHS has a sleeve or cardboard slipcase, use the original graphics to create a sleeve for the locking DVD case and put a sticker containing the copyright use restrictions on the inside of the DVD case. When there are no useful graphics on the VHS then print the title on the paper form with the copyright use restriction information on it. (See supervisor for location of forms.) These usually retain their old "MCTR" number with a D at the end of it.. a "p-touch" label is applied to the bottom of the spine.

The original VHS receives a bright pink "Do Not Circulate" sticker and is forwarded to Special Collections for long-term retention. A "p-touch" label without the D after the number is applied to the spine above the pink label.

Discarded Books

Books that have been withdrawn or gift books that are not wanted for our own collections are packed and shipped to the not-for-profit organization Better World Books. The Preservation Manager coordinates these shipments. For more information on Better World Books see http://www.betterworldbooks.com/go/libraries.


The following is a list of supplies used in Materials Processing, along with their ordering method and when appropriate, their source. Please monitor the stock of supplies as they are used and place orders far enough in advance to avoid shortages.

  • Book plates for Davis, Armstrong, and Davison are printed on campus by Reprographics and ordered by the LIS Administrative Assistant.
  • Security strips and overlays are ordered annually through Lyrasis. (Through JW)
  • Locking DVD/Blu-ray cases are ordered in large batches directly from 3M. (Through JW)
  • Exterior cases for media going to the stacks, as well as small misc. items like the colored overlays for DVD cases, "3-day loan" stickers, etc., are ordered from Gaylord or Demco. These can be requested directly from the LIS Admin Assistant via email charging LIBOOK 704818, (cc JW)
  • Printers: P-touch printer cartridges are ordered from OfficeMax by the LIS Admin Assistant.; we received a large quantity of labels and ribbon for the Zebra printer when we purchased it and we shouldn't have to order more for a number of years. (Through JW)
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