Michigan State University

Staff FAQ for Conservation

Questions answered about how to bring books to Conservation, who to contact with questions, what happens to a book when it arrives in the lab, etc.

How do I bring a book to the conservation lab

There are several ways a book can arrive at the conservation lab;

  1. The book is damaged when it is returned by the patron. Patron Services will send the book to Bind Prep (Bind Prep is the central sorting location for damaged books). If the book can be sent to the library binder, it is processed for that. If it is something the conservation lab can repair, it is routed to the lab. All books sent to Bind Prep or the Conservation Lab have their status updated to reflect their location.
  2. A staff member can bring the book directly to the lab. The Lab is normally staffed from 8am to 5pm. If the book is from the circulating collections, please give it to Sue Depoorter or Eric Alstrom. If it is from Special Collections, talk to Bexx Caswell-Olson or Linsey Allen. If the designated person is not available, someone will take the book and give it to whom it should go and have that person contact you.
  3. If you can't walk the book to the lab, you can put it in an envelope and send it through the library currier. Please make sure you have a note with your name and why you are sending the book to the lab. Please do not send fragile, valuable or special collections materials through the currier. If you cannot bring the book to the lab, call us and we can come get it if needed.
  4. If a book is wet or moldy, it can be placed in the freezer. The freezer is located in the old staff lounge next to the shrink wrapping equipment. If you place a book in the freezer, please email or contact Sue Depoorter so we know it is in the freezer and can take appropriate action.

What do I do with a wet or moldy book?

  • Circulating Collections: Please handle the volume carefully since a wet book is more susceptible to damage and a moldy book can be hazardous to your health. If the lab is open, please bring the book directly to the lab. If it is after 5pm or on a weekend, place the book in the freezer and email Sue Depoorter. Do NOT wrap a wet book in plastic and then store it away somewhere. This will cause more damage and mold growth!
  • Special Collections: Contact Bexx Caswell-Olson or Linsey Allen and let them know you have a wet book. If they are not available and the lab is open, please bring the book to the lab. If it is after hours, place the book in the freezer, UNLESS the books is bound in leather or vellum. For leather and vellum books, 

Who does what?

If you have general questions about preservation, need preservation supplies or some other aspect of the Conservation & Preservation unit, contact Eric Alstrom (4-0905).

If you have a question about the condition of a book from Special Collections, including wet or moldy books, contact Bexx Caswell-Olson (4-0802).

If you have a question about the condition of a book from the general collections, a book being requested via ILL, or any other unit besides Special Collections, contact Eric Alstrom (4-0905).

If you have a question about a book with the status "R" (At Book Repair; Ask at Circ), contact Sue Depoorter (4-4042).

If you have a question about putting a book on exhibit or need help with exhibit preparation, contact either Bexx Caswell-Olson (4-0802) or Linsey Allen (2-0491).

If you have a wet or moldy book and it is while the lab is open, call Sue Depoorter (4-4042). or Eric Alstrom (4-0905) or bring the book to the conservation lab. 

If you have a question about a book at the bindery, contact Ed Gildner (4-0907).