Conservator Sherif Afifi

Creating a Knowledge Sharing Culture

Using gloves or not? In archival material conservation

For those who always asking; why don't you use gloves in most of your YoutTube video tutorials about books and paper conservation. The answer is: most of the conservators believe that using gloves in many cases make them clumsy and more likely to create more damage to the object. Moreover, wearing gloves actually increases the potential for physically damaging fragile material through mishandling. I understand it looks more professional and in many times showy to watch a conservator wearing blue surgical gloves, but actually, it is not in need in most of the cases, especially in paper and book conservation, it is better to wash hands often rather than to wear gloves.
most of paper and books conservators-restorers know the disadvantages of gloves (especially cotton gloves)

“Before handling any collection item, thoroughly wash and dry hands. Contrary to widespread belief, gloves are not necessarily recommended to handle rare or valuable books. Gloves (nitrile or vinyl) are always recommended if there is reason to suspect a health hazard (e.g., mold, arsenic). Clean gloves (nitrile, vinyl, or lint-free cotton) are also recommended when handling photograph albums/photographs or books with metal or ivory parts. Aside from those specific situations, it is generally preferable to handle your books with clean hands, washed with soap and thoroughly dried, rather than with gloves.” "Portland State University Library"

Gloves are more likely to protect yourself first

Definitely, moulds are very dangerous and detrimental to health; as it is not recommended to deal with mouldy objects without gloves to protect yourself unless you are sure it is inactive. However, conservators should take into account all the necessary handling precautions. In the case of active moulds, I urge you to use gloves and mask to handle these mouldy materials.
Watch this video from the British Museum describing Why aren't you wearing gloves

As well as this video from The British Library about using gloves with Collection Items

Also listen to this link from the C word :

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