When handling the books prior to cleaning, clean dry hands are best. If you wore white cotton gloves, any dirt would only stick to the gloves and get transferred to more books. Dusting has its own procedure too, and can take a bit of practice. (Bear with…) If the book has a card cover, hold the spine, taking the weight of the book, and slide the cover up and off. Starting with the book spine in your right hand, turn over and hold the long edge in you left hand with the spine nice and snug on your forearm. This gives you a free edge to dust with one sweep of a soft brush, from the spine outwards. Rotate the book and hold the top, to clean the long edge, then with a quick motion you can have the last edge spine-up to complete the process. Simple! Trust me it does make more sense when you try it… on to the pages.
As I noted in my blog post from the house keeping training course at Tyntesfield, To inspect a book, you have to ‘listen’ to it. (So maybe play that German Industrial Techno-Heavy Metal cd another time.) The principle is to be aware of any noises the book might make, and to open it at the smallest angle you can get away with, to check the pages. Unless being treated by a conservator or being repaired, you would never open it more than 45 degrees, as this puts a strain on the spine. If the book is under stress, it can make small creaking noises as you open it, (hence the ‘listen’) so you get a sense of what is appropriate. If in doubt, leave shut. (If a book actually does ‘speak’ to you and you’re not Harry Potter, I would suggest a consultation with a doctor or priest is in order…)