An insidious ennemy : dust

If you think about libraries, a few things are coming straight to your mind : an old four-eyed librarian (it’s about wearing glasses, not about genetically disturbance) with strict hairstyle and bad temper… But you might also think about dust… Dust is as much part of libraries as books are. It is an essential element to enlighten our beloved silence, tremendous isolation from the world and the venerable age of the collection. With the years, dust comes to be as sacred as the books themselves. Nobody disagrees that an old and glorious dust from the 50’s is much more interesting than 21st century dirt!

But we, as map library’s workers don’t care about these romantic clichés. Dust is an intruder and our duty is to fight against it. Day after day, rooms, bookshelves and documents are invaded. Dirt comes where you can not see it, where you can not catch it : in the back of a heavy furniture, in a stuck drawer, and goes everywhere each time you open these various species of Pandora’s boxes !

Read this testimony from University of Provence (South of France) :
Ten years ago I took office in the Department of Geography of the University of Aix-en-Provence, as a map librarian. During 5 years, I have been realising a complete inventory of each and every furniture. At the same time I was cleaning them, inside and outside with a cloth some water and a lot of courage. Then I covered them with a large sheet of craft paper, in order to protect them. I was wearing a surgical mask but it wasn’t enough to avoid allergies and rhinitis.

And others testimonies from elsewhere (in France)
For our CADIST library (a Cadist " is the reference library for the acquisition, storage and distribution of materials in (a specific) field"), we profited of a complete de-dusting that followed the huge asbestos removal of our university. This de-dusting has been realised by a private company just before our move.

In Paris 8, we had no regret leaving 30 years of dust while we moved in a new site, in 2005… Better than saying “a new besom sweeps clean”!