How to care for paper and books
Tiakitanga o te taonga pepa

Works on paper include watercolours, prints, drawings, documents, maps, books, wallpapers, playing cards, and fans.


Handle paper objects with clean hands or cotton gloves.

Storing and displaying

  • Store paper objects in a cool, dry, and dark space where a regular temperature can be maintained. Temperature fluctuations may cause damage over time.
  • Protect paper from too much light, which causes fading and creates a chemical reaction that weakens the paper.
  • Use acid-free storage boxes, frames, or supports. Acidity causes significant darkening, brittleness, and foxing (the appearance of small brown stains).
  • Keep spaces well cleaned to protect objects from dust, pests, and insects.
  • Store paper objects flat rather than rolled or folded.


To label paper, use a 2B pencil rather than ink, which can seep into the paper.

More resources

National Library of New Zealand: Books

National Library of New Zealand: Artworks on Paper

American Institute for Conservation of Historic and Artistic Works: Documents and Art on Paper

Care and handling of rare books, paper, manuscripts, photographs, and archives – Auckland Libraries

Auckland Libraries’ Preservation Manager and Book Conservator reveals the tricks of his trade in this 20-minute video.