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Guidelines for Using the Special Collections and Archives: Home

Due to the delicate nature of some artifacts, it is important to understand the best practices to use when handling artifacts in our special collections and archives, and this guide does just that.


Napa Valley College is committed to preserving the history of Napa Valley College, the environs surrounding the college, and items of historical significance.  To this end, the Special Collections and Archives were created.  Some of the items in the collection are even over 100 years old!  Some are very rare.  With that in mind, there are some guidelines for visiting and handling artifacts in the collection.

Guidelines for Using the Special Collections and Archives


By Appointment Only:  Due to the delicate nature of some materials in the collection, visits must be supervised by a librarian.  Please e-mail a librarian to set up an appointment.

Climate:  The Special Collections room is one of the most consistent climates in the library, and a consistent climate is very important for preservation purposes.  Please do not adjust the climate in the room or ask for it to be adjusted.

The Doors:  Because it is important to maintain the climate, do not prop open either the door to outside or the door to the library.  If you have a class that is meeting in the room, request that the door be unlocked so that students can simply enter, minimizing the disturbance to the climate.

Surfaces:  The tables should be sanitized and dry when placing materials on them in order to minimize the damage from possible residue on the tables.

Handling the Materials:  Sanitize and dry your hands thoroughly before handling the materials.  Oil from your hands can cause damage to older items, so this is really important.  Also do not put on lotion prior to handling artifacts, as this can cause a chemical reaction and damage artifacts.  In addition, any dampness can contribute to the growth of mold or other microorganisms, so it is important to have dry hands.  Do not touch your face, mouth, or other body parts while working with a special collection.  If you do happen to do this, sanitize, and dry your hands thoroughly.  Additionally, if you have nail polish on your nails which is dark in color, be extra careful handling artifacts, as the polish could rub off onto the artifact, thereby damaging it.  For delicate items, be careful and gentle, and minimize the contact that your hands have with the item.  If an item is in a cover, container, box, or other receptible, please ask permission before removing the item from its enclosure.  Newspapers, in particular, are subject to crumbling, so handling them with care is extremely important.

Writing Implements:  Pencils Only:  Please use only pencils when taking notes, and do NOT write on the artifacts.  Using pencil minimizes accidents that can occur with pen, highlighters, and other permanent writing utensils.

No Writing, Drawing, Etc. on Artifacts:  Defacing artifacts in the special collections can cause serious damage to the artifacts and, in some cases, impede preservation, thereby robbing future students of access to the artifacts.  If you deface artifacts in the special collections, punitive action may be taken up to and including being barred from the library.

Finding Aids:  Librarians are in the process of cataloging and creating finding aids for the materials in the collection.  Available finding aids can be found by going to the library’s homepage and clicking on “Library Guides,” and then select, “Topic Guides.”