The Perils of Post-its and the Terror of Tape


The urge to flag meaty passages in books and to mend small
tears in library material is admirable and often necessary during your
research, but please, por favor, svp, behaga, bitte, tevreden, don’t use Post-it
Notes or tape. In the long run, these conveniences become very, very, very

Although Post-its are removable, these office supply wonders
leave behind a faint path of adhesive. Over time dirt settles into the gummy
trails and digs into the paper fibers, permanently marring the paper. Worse
things can happen than staining. After awhile pages may fuse together or attach
themselves to neighboring materials. For rare or valuable materials,
conservators will labor with chemicals to undo the damage. These treatments
are very time consuming and often not 100% effective in restoring the original
aesthetic qualities. Instead of using Post-it Notes to flag important pages,
consider using bookmarks or long slips of paper.

Even more perilous than Post-it Notes, adhesive store-bought
tapes are guaranteed to damage materials. The sticky adhesives eat away at the
paper fibers and discolor the materials underneath. Over time, when the
adhesive completely dries out, the clear outer topcoat flakes off and leaves
the weakened paper surface open for abrasion and wear. For important documents
and books, conservators invest long hours to chemically dissolve tape adhesives
and often futilely combat enduring stains.


When you come across a torn page with library material, be
sure to report it when you return the material. If your own material is torn,
consider leaving the tear and simply handling the material very carefully. If
you use the material frequently and want to repair it, consider contacting a
professional conservator to evaluate the book.

For more information, see:

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