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Biological deterioration of Library Materials

Biological deterioration of Library materials


Biological deterioration of library materials is caused by small microorganisms, insects, and rodents. These microorganisms develop in the library which is in bad condition due to neglect by irresponsible library staff. The Librarian is fully responsible for whatever is happening in the library. He can’t excuse from this blame.

As you know the book components like paper, leather, cloth, board, etc are used for bookbinding. But when there is high humidity, there is moisture and that weakens the binding. The moisture lets the fungus and other microorganisms grow there. The humidity and moisture aggravate the condition and accelerates their growth.

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Biological deterioration of Library materials can be stopped by timely intervention and conservation. The attack by these biological agents is because they get favorable conditions to develop. Every Library has to go through these difficult times created by these agents of bio-deterioration.

damaged book

Biological Agents categories


The fungus is one of the Biological deterioration of Library materials. It is a sort of little unwanted plant. They grow anywhere where there are moisture and dirt. It grows because of humidity and its range should be between 60 to 100%. The fungus grows in its favorable temperature,i.e between 10-35c.

You would have seen the fungus near the water tank, dark green, or brown color. It generally grows where there is water or moisture. in Libraries due to humidity and there is moisture. These fungus grows on Leather’s book covers and consumes cellulose.

The books after the fungus growth get fully damaged. It is in no condition to use. There is a lot of stains on the pages. The pages are discolored.


Bacteria is also responsible for the biological deterioration of library materials. It also appears on old books having leather bindings. These bacteria are not visible through the naked eye. It eats cellulose in paper and thus the book is damaged.

Silverfish in libraries


Silverfish is an insect and responsible for the biological deterioration of library materials. The materials used in binding like starch and glue, are the food of silverfish. Dust and Dirt also attract Silverfish. They live in dark places and stay active at the night. Sunlight is necessary to enter in Library. If it is not there, then insects grow in damp places.

Dust that collects and settles on the books is very bad for the library. These insects grow in this type of environment. Silverfish is one such creation, which is silver in color and about 10mm in size. They eat the adhesive and glue used in the binding of the book. They do holes inside the books. You will be amazed to see that hole starts from the front cover and ends on the back cover page.

Cockroaches in Library


It is also an insect, which is responsible for the biological deterioration of Library materials. Cockroaches are generally seen in the kitchen at homes, but they also stay at the library. They are also enemies of books. They like to damage it. They eat pages of books and materials of bindings.

Cockroaches generally live in dark and damp places. It may be under the bookshelf, almirah, cupboards, and gaps in walls. They excrete on the pages and leaves dark stains. So every corner of the libraries should be kept clean and pesticides should be put there.

Book worms

Book worms are one of the agents responsible for the biological deterioration of library materials. These book worms also damage the books as they feed on paper and book binding materials. They make a tunnel in the books and boards, which is used for cover.

Book Lice

This is also one of the insects like book worms, but it is different in look. It is gray and white in color. All these grow due to moisture and dust, which is settled on books. They eat the fungus which is grown in books.

biological deterioration of Library materials


Termites are also called White ants. This has the ability to completely eat the library and turn it into the mud. Termites that grow at wet and damp places. They eat wood and paper. They do severe damage and cannot be repaired.

You can find termites when you will see mud tunnels near the shelf or furniture. They stay in wall cracks and holes. Termites generally stay in the soil.


Rodents include mice, rats, squirrels, etc. They are responsible for the biological deterioration of library materials. They come from drainage holes and windows.librarian should check that there should be no food materials be left in the dustbin or anywhere in the library.

These food particles invite them and they damage the library materials.Rats like to tear pages.

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Librarian is responsible for the library. Besides providing library services to users, he should be checking any unwanted activities by these biological deterioration elements. Timely pesticides should be used in libraries. Libraries are heritage and storehouses of knowledge. Preservation and conservation of the library should be done to safeguard the library.



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