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    • #133065

      Does anybody have a specific list of when white cotton gloves should be worn, and when they shouldn’t? I took the latest webinar, and everything I thought I knew was wrong!

    • #133078
      Lisa Worley

      Hi Brittany,

      Here’s the link to a Conserve O Gram with a handy chart at the end. I’ve been using N-Dex free nitrile gloves. I’ve seen the blue gloves react when handling metal objects. The n-dex free (bright green) don’t do that.

      Good luck!

    • #133077

      It’s been a gradual evolution, but nowadays I ask all people handling an object to wear impermeable gloves (usually nitrile). There are special circumstances (handling frozen items or very heavy sculpture) where different gloves might be needed, of course.
      People need to wear gloves when handling an object for two reasons – it protects the object and it protects them. People have all sorts of chemicals on their hands – heavy metals from mercury amalgam fillings, medications they are taking, enzymes (which break down proteins), hygroscopic agents such as potassium lactate to keep the skin supple, amino acids, urea, greases, salts and water. The skin is our largest excreting organ. So our hands leave a thin layer of salty, greasy, moisture absorbing chemicals on an object which acts as a food source for mold and pests, a corrosion accelerator, a protein destroyer, a dust grabber and a soiling agent all by itself.
      Bu then we think about what the object has on it: corrosion products, trace elements which could be poisonous, the remains of pesticide treatments, mold spores and toxins or lead-rich dust from previous storage environments. Was it ever in a flood and contaminated with fecal particles? I can’t guarantee what it has on it, and I want my colleagues to stay safe and healthy.
      Of course gloves take a bit of getting used to, but it’s not that hard. We expect neuro-surgeons to wear them for hours every day when operating and we don’t expect them to complain that they can’t feel properly when wearing gloves!
      I also ask people to wash their hands and dry them thoroughly before and after wearing gloves, to use hand cream or barrier cream if they are using gloves often as they need to replace oils and keep the skin healthy. If someone has problems with sweaty hands, they can wear a thin cotton glove and then a larger impermeable glove over that.
      So far no-one on any of the training or handling sessions has dropped or fumbled an object.
      Hope this helps.

    • #133076
      Tracie Hampton

      Of course, paper conservators don’t wear gloves as the gloves tend to cause damages because we lose a certain amount of feeling in our fingertips that we need while performing treatments. Frequent hand washing is a must though.

      I do have a question for the experts though. What about an anthropodermic biblogpegy book? Can it be handled just like any other leather book? Or is it just a personal consideration for people with religious or other reasons not to want to touch a book bound in human skin?

    • #133075
      Donia Conn

      Most anthropodermic books will behave just like leather as they are tanned as well. I would think for an anthropodermic book that for researcher comfort, clean cotton gloves could be provided for examining the binding but then the gloves should come off for reading the text.

    • #133074
      Tracie Hampton

      Thank you Donia. That was my intuition, but I wanted to check with the experts to be sure. I don’t have much experience with leather, let alone this particular kind of leather.

    • #133073

      Here’s an article that presents a slightly different point of view re: requiring cotton gloves when handling books – Misperceptions about White Gloves by Cathleen A. Baker and Randy Silverman. Food for thought…

    • #133072

      Just read the “misperceptions about White Gloves” article above. Written in 2005, I was wondering what the feeling was about the alcohol liquid hand sanitizers many use to combat germs. Since we don’t have a washroom nearby, would that and a roll of paper towels suffice?

    • #133071

      Hi Kathleen,
      Hand sanitizers often contain moisturizers that remain on the skin. Soap and water are the best way to reduce the dirt and oils on the skin, even if it is a walk. The article does note towelettes with pure alcohol (such as those used in a medical office) could be an option. Here is a quote:
      A compromise to this recommendation is to provide
      inexpensive, disposable, alcohol-saturated towelettes
      for patrons as the means of cleaning their hands
      without leaving the reading room. Individually packaged
      towelettes can be purchased in quantities of 1000 for
      less than two cents apiece ($US) from companies that
      distribute disposable janitorial supplies. One should
      avoid choosing products containing skin lotions, but
      an extensive array of options are available, many of
      which can be viewed at the website, Gallery of the
      Modern Moist Towelette Collecting.3 Instituting a
      ‘hand cleaning station’ somewhere in the reading
      room would simply consist of a container of prepackaged
      towelettes, a roll of paper towels for
      removing residual moisture left by the towelette,
      and a wastebasket for depositing used hand cleaning
      products. Requirements that staff also avail themselves
      of this public ‘station’ would reinforce the need for
      readers to routinely ‘wash up’.

    • #133070
      Donia Conn

      The Library of Congress will soon be publishing notes on research they did with hand sanitizers in relation to collections materials. I know that they found the best method was soap and water and second best was hand sanitizers WITHOUT alcohol. Jeanne Drewes from the Library of Congress presented briefly on this at the most recent American Library Association meeting (Jan 2013).

    • #133069
      Jo Desmond

      Regarding white gloves: from a professional picture framer and art appraiser’s point of view, the article mentioned earlier is excellent (Misperceptions about White Gloves by Cathleen A. Baker and Randy Silverman. is not practical to approach framing paper art wearing gloves. Also handling art during an appraisal inspection is not always easy while wearing gloves. As mentioned in the article, gloves can pick up dirt and oils. It is also not always possible have a firm grasp on the object you are inspecting. I have found that clean hands are generally adequate in handling art.

    • #133068

      Cotton gloves have a lot of problems, but we need to remember that it is not a case of cotton gloves or nothing! Nitrile or isoprene gloves are fine enough for neurosurgeons, so surely we can manage to work with them? In some cases, surgeons are now double-gloving to reduce infection rates in patients.

    • #133067
      Donia Conn

      I think, to help make this a better conversation, we should all try to be specific in what sorts of collections objects we are referring to when we are advocating for or rejecting the wearing of gloves. I can understand their value when working with museum objects but for library and archival material (paper, not photographs or film), even the nitrile gloves are overkill in my opinion. Just based on how people use these collections (and use is heavy in many areas), clean hands are much more efficient and just as safe as nitrile gloves. I would love to hear from others with collection specifics to better understand your responses. Thank you.

    • #133066

      Here’s my two cents worth on this topic. As a conservator of paper and archival materials for 30 years I concur with the Baker/Silverman article for the reasons they cite and when you are talking about handling book and paper items specifically. With respect to the question raised about hand sanitizers I also brought that question up to scientists at the Canadian Conservation Institute a couple of years ago when increasingly in Canadian libraries and archives staff were being directed to place hand sanitizers in the reading rooms for patrons to use. I had concern about whether or not sanitizers would leave residue on archival papers or library books when handled without gloves. The opnion of the CCI scientists was that the concern was negligible. They felt the small quantity used would not likely pose a problem as these products are mostly composed of ethanol and isopropanol,and water (about 75%) which evaporates readily The smaller quantities of other products such as the gel or perfumes would be the concern but again as they noted quantities would be much smaller in the tiny amount one normally dispenses. One scientist did seems less confident that no oily residue will remain based on similar tests he had done with other products. If you have a choice in the matter I would suggest at least asking for a sanitizer with highest level of ethanol/isopropanol and less or no perfumes and other additives. Additionally I would be rigorous in requesting researchers to use gloves as much as possible when handling highly valuable records or materials such as photographs or microfilm where the oil transfer is more of a risk.

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