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Penn State University Libraries

Shrink Wrapping: Four Simple and Easy Steps

In 1992, the University Libraries began using shrink-wrapping as a means to protect fragile materials that were being moved to a remote storage facility. Since then, shrink-wrapping remains an active component of our preservation program.

For more information on our shrink-wrapping experience, please see "Moving Fragile Materials: Shrink-Wrapping at Penn State," in Collection Management, volume 18, number 1 / 2 (1993), pages 117 - 128.



Equipment and supplies you will need include:


Ultra Bar Sealer (Latter Packing Equipment, INC. Model UB-26)


Master HeatGun (Master Appliance Corp., Model HG-501A)


Shrink Film (Avero Packing Corp. By- 75GA; 18")




Step 1: Place items between folds of film


Step 2: Seal the film with the heat bar

step 3

Step 3: Puncture film before shrinking

step 4

Step 4: Shrink film with hand-held heat gun

Advice: Working with small batches of items helps minimize the number of items taken out of their collections or circulation.

Good candidates for shrink-wrapping include:
  • Books with loose covers, spines or pages;
  • Volumes with rotting leather bindings;
  • Items with detached brittle pages or fragmenting yellow paper;
  • Large and/or flimsy unbound materials - remember to add barrier board to the package before sealing and shrinking;
  • Bundles of paperbacks or small volumes in need of additional protection.

Caveat: Shrink-wrapping should not be considered a replacement for long-term preservation. However, the technique serves effectively as an inexpensive method of short-term protection.


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