Home, National Library of Ireland

Safe Handling Guidelines

Image of hands holding a book on a cushion

Please follow these guidelines when accessing material from the National Library of Ireland's collections.

Accessing materials in our reading rooms

  • Food and drink are not allowed in the reading rooms
  • Only use pencils or computers for note-taking
  • Ensure your hands are clean, dry, and lotion free
  • Do not write on, lean on, or place other items on any library materials
  • Keep your workspace tidy


Handling books or manuscript volumes

  • Do not open volumes flat on the table. Volumes must be correctly supported on a cushion using snake weights or small weights, if needed
  • Never rest an open volume face down
  • If you need to mark your place in a volume, ask a staff member for an acid-free slip
  • Do not hold volumes up or place them in your lap
  • Never lean on the volume, rest your notes on it or run your fingers along the lines of text
  • Never apply direct force to open out or restrain any volume
  • Do not mark or annotate the pages
  • If accompanied by a phase box, please ensure that the volume is housed properly within before returning it to the counter


Handling manuscript loose items

  • Items should always be laid flat and kept within the confines of the folder
  • Do not hold items up, place them in your lap or carry them around the room
  • Do not lean on the item, rest your notes on it, or run your finger along the lines of text
  • Do not mark or annotate the pages
  • Items must not overhang the table edge
  • Never apply direct force to open out or restrain any item
  • Use snake weights or small weights if needed
  • If the item is numbered, it must be kept in the correct numerical order in the folder
  • When returning the folder to the counter, make sure items are housed properly within


Digital photography guidelines

You may use a digital camera, including the camera on your phone or tablet.

Please follow these rules to ensure the safety of the collections:

  • Do not use flash photography
  • Keep the camera at a suitable distance from the item at all times
  • While taking photographs, please make sure that your jewellery or clothes are not in contact with the item
  • Turn the pages of large items carefully

If you have any queries about the condition of an item or would like any help or advice, please feel free to ask our staff in the reading rooms.