University texts, family heirlooms, classic novels and children’s
stories – we collect a lot of books over the years. Regardless of how we
come by our libraries, we find at some point that we have to store them
away. Proper care and storage are essential to extending the life of
your volumes. Here are some guidelines for doing it right.
Cleaning. If the book is extremely dirty, lightly vacuum with a brush
attachment. For light to moderate amounts of dust and dirt, use a
magnetic dry cloth. Hold the book firmly closed so dust doesn’t get
between the pages and wipe the book from the spine outwards. Make sure
there is nothing stashed between the pages of the book. Paper items and
pressed flowers are acidic and damaging to the pages. Fasteners like
paperclips can stain and tear.
Packing. Take an inventory of your books, noting the title, author,
publisher, year, ISBN (if present) and any other information you find
pertinent. An inventory will help you locate individual volumes and
provide an itemized list in case of an insurance claim. Pack books
according to your inventory in small, labeled, cardboard boxes, laying
them flat. Large boxes allow for shifting which can cause damage. Use
boxes that are chemically purified; paper packing material should have a
pH or 7 to 8.5. If you must use plastic bins, choose ones made of
polypropylene or polyethylene. They are the most durable and chemically
stable; avoid PVC and cellulose acetate. Do not stack boxes too high as
the weight of the upper boxes may cause the ones below to collapse.
Storing. Whether you store your books at home or in self-storage, make
sure the space is climate controlled; moisture and great temperature
fluctuations will harm your books. If the floor is concrete, stack the
boxes – squarely – on wooden pallets to avoid moisture absorption from
the floor. Wrap individual boxes in plastic for added protection.
Hardbacks should go at the bottom of the pile. Do not stack boxes too
high as the weight of the upper boxes may cause the ones below to
If you have any inkling that a book has special value or significance,
or have any other questions, don’t hesitate to consult our expert.
Certain books may require extra special care.