Connecticut State Library with state seal

Preservation Office

Preservation Advice for Libraries, Historical Societies and Home Collections:
Displays & Exhibits


If you want to exhibit your materials keep light levels low and minimize ultraviolet light (natural sunlight and fluorescent light). Read more about the Effect of Light on Objects.

Don't exhibit something of value permanently. In fact, it is better to exhibit a copy, if copyright restrictions allow, rather than the original item. Photographic copies and laser-printer color copies can be almost indistinguishable from the original. Or, you might want the copies "cleaned up" to remove stains or damage. Put the original in safe storage.

If a frame and mat are used, ensure that they won't damage the object. A wooden frame may off-gas and damage your object so use a metal frame and, if appropriate, acrylic or glass that will filter ultraviolet light. An acidic mat can damage objects. Attach the object to a mat made with archival paper using hinges or corner supports.

More information:

ACRL Guidelines for borrowing and lending special collections materials for exhibition” by American Library Association, Association of College and Research Libraries, Rare Book and Manuscripts Section. 

Matting And Framing For Art And Artifacts On Paper from NEDCC.

Protecting Paper and Book Collections during Exhibition by Mary Todd Glaser from NEDCC.


Making a copy of your items allows you to save wear and tear on the original item. Some items may be so fragile they should not be used or may be deteriorating so quickly that they will not survive much longer.

The factors to watch out for when seeking a duplicate copy include:

· The duplication process won’t damage your original document or the damage is acceptable. For example, it may be necessary to disbind a book before making a reproduction but a flat-bed scanner would put less stress on a fragile map or newspaper than a scanner that pulls the item through two rollers.

· The paper meets the permanence standard. (Not all "acid-free" papers meet this standard. A top-notch vendor should be aware of the standard.)

· The ink or toner should be permanently adhered to the paper.

· The binding meets the library binding standard which will ensure you get a durable book. (A top-notch vendor should already be using this standard.) The binding will not resemble the original unless you make specific (and expensive) special arrangements with the bindery.

More information:

A glance through the phone book under "Photographers" included listings for companies that claim to do poster size enlargements. "Copying & Duplicating Serv" has listings for companies that can do full color laser printing, posters and large document production.

The Library Binding Institute includes members who are "certified library binders," many of whom provide the service of making copies of entire books, should this be permitted under the copyright law.

Suppliers List by NEDCC.


At this time, the U.S. copyright law allows libraries to make a replacement copy of items that are copyrighted, under certain circumstances. We are not experts on the copyright law and can't advise you whether your materials are covered by the law or not. You should read about copyright to ensure that your effort won't violate the law.

More information:

Copyright, Intellectual Property Rights and Licensing from Berkeley Digital Library

Copyright from the American Library Association Washington Office

Library preservation: changes incorporated in H.R. 2281 the Digital Millennium Copyright Act of 1998 (PL 105-304) from the American Library Association Washington Office

[Section]108. Limitations on exclusive rights: Reproduction by libraries and archives from Indiana University. Copyright Management Center

Prepared by Connecticut State Library Preservation Office staff; last updated Nov. 2011.