Collection preservation: preserving the physical collection of the KB

Collection Preservation expertise enables us to secure, preserve and provide access to the physical collection of the KB. For example, books must be stored in the right lighting and climate conditions, loans must be monitored and old books restored. Read on for more information about this expertise.

Preserving the collection: preventive preservation and restoration

Library material will face natural wear. The quality of material can decline due to humidity, for example, or aridity, insects or the influence of light. But also due to use. There are a number of measures we can take to prevent this degeneration (preventive preservation). We also restore books and other material wherever necessary. Before we decide which measures are needed, we carry out a thorough inspection and compile a risk analysis.

Preventive preservation

Preventive preservation entails measures that do not physically affect the material or the appearance of the objects. This could mean:

  • secure storage
  • checks for insects and mould
  • ensuring the correct climate and lighting
  • wrapping or supporting


If an object needs to be restored, we will carry out the repairs in line with national and international ethical guidelines and professional codes of conduct. When implementing measures, we always ensure that the collection remains accessible and manageable.

An accessible collection, both now and in the future

Collection preservation ensures that the physical collection can be safely accessed, inspected, digitised or displayed. And this means that on occasion, our collection will require intensive care. This is how we make sure that the collection remains accessible, for current and future generations.

The physical collection is growing every year

The physical collection comprises approximately 4 million volumes and is expanding by around 50.000 new titles per year. Just imagine: the collection is now 215 kilometres long! Countless requests to access items in the collection are processed every single year. 

The KB collection at home and abroad

We exhibit our collections both inside the KB and at exhibitions outside our doors. Temporary exhibitions are held inside the KB in the Topstukken exhibition hall. Cultural and social institutions in the Netherlands and abroad are always keen to borrow items from the KB collection.

More information for members of the press:

Helen Johnson
Press officer
06 - 42 26 88 11