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Brittle Books


Books identified as "brittle " do not circulate and have a status of "brittle" in the library catalog
Brittle books have fragile, often breaking and yellowed paper. This is a world-wide problem and is inherent to a vast number of books published from around 1850 through modern times. It was caused by the introduction of ground wood pulp, impurities such as lignin, and acidic sizing materials including alum into the modern paper making process. Just opening and turning the pages of a book in an advanced state of deterioration from acid hydrolysis can cause the pages to break off or crumble, thereby losing printed information.
Brittle books are generally too weak to be repaired. A reformatted version, such as a reprint, microfilm, microfiche, electronic version or preservation photocopy is often used to replace a brittle original. If a book or portion of a periodical set has been found to be brittle, it may be transferred to the Retrospective Research Collection Center (RRCC) on Cedar Road or the Iron Mountain/ National Underground Storage facility in Pennsylvania to limit handling and to keep it in a better (colder, dryer, darker, more stable) environment than is possible here, and will slow the rate of deterioration.
While extremely brittle books do not usually circulate, they can always be used with care at the library or at the Retrospective Research Collection Center. Check first to see if a reformatted version (reprint, photocopy, microform, electronic title) of the book is available through the library catalog (including Google Books) and OhioLink. If not, or if you prefer to see the original, any brittle book requested from RRCC Monday through Friday can be brought to KSL within 24 hours for your in-house use.

For same-day service, staff members can fax the request to the RRCC. Brittle books requested over the weekend will be brought to KSL the following Monday afternoon. Books can be retrieved from Iron Mountain within 2 days. To request a book or journal from storage or Iron Mountain, fill out the Retrospective Research Collection Center Retrieval Request Form or the Iron Mountain Retrieval Request Form.The form is also available from the Service Center desk at KSL.

You are also welcome to visit the Retrospective Research Collection Center (on Cedar Road) on weekdays and use the books there by making an appointment. Appointments can be made to visit the RRCC by calling Ron Chambers at 216-368-4319.
If a brittle item is valuable for your research and you feel its routine use is warrented, please notify or call the Preservation Department (sxg7@case.edu, 216-368-3465) or Circulation Services staff. Consideration and efforts will be made to provide such items in a more serviceable format.

Please handle brittle books with extra care, and do not photocopy! If you need a copy of some pages, bring the book to the Freedman Center for Digital Scholarship (Kelvin Smith Library, first floor) or to Preservation (Kelvin Smith Library, Room LL-23). A staff member will copy the pages you need on a planetary scanner without causing damage to the book.

About Us FAQ

What and Where is Siegal?

The notation "Siegal" in the online catalog refers to the Aaron Garber Library of the Siegal College of Judaic Studies at 26500 Shaker Blvd. Cleveland OH 44122. The Aaron Garber Library is the academic library of the College and the central library of the Cleveland Jewish community. It includes 30,000 volumes, plus periodicals, language tapes, music and text CDs in English, Hebrew and Yiddish. The Library's electronic catalog is part of the online library system managed by Case Western Reserve University, and is included in OhioLINK, the statewide electronic academic catalog system. Online borrowing privileges are reserved for students registered at Siegal College. Community members are welcome to browse the catalog, visit the Garber Library and borrow materials.

For further information, contact by email, or call 216-464-4050 x131 or 132.

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Kelvin Smith Library | 11055 Euclid Avenue | Cleveland, OH 44106-7151 | 216-368-3506