Storing Books for the Long Term

When someone is passionate about reading, it’s not surprising to see that they have a lot of books in their home or room. A home library is a valuable thing to have, but there’s also the issue of storing books for the long term. After all, books are quite sensitive and need proper maintenance if you want to keep them for life. 

Having all those books in a lot of bookshelves around your home or even one room might sound appealing, but it’s not always practical. Books require a lot of dusting, airing, and other forms of upkeep if you don’t want them gathering lots of dust or mildewing. A storage unit might come in handy, but there’s still a way to go about it. Here are some tips for storing your books if you want them to stay safe for a long time: 

1. Inspect the Books Regularly

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Before storing books, make sure to inspect them properly. This should be a practice whether you plan to put them in a storage unit or not. Any food crumbs, residue, or sticky spots could ruin a book over time. 

What’s more, any book that’s been exposed to mildew, mold, water, or food shouldn’t be put into storage without proper cleaning. If you make this mistake, the damage might spread to the rest of the books in your collection. 

2. Wrap Each Book

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When you want to place the books in long term storage, wrap each unit in paper towels or something similar. This will protect the covers and pages from dirt, dust, or any such damage. 

When padding and wrapping the books, make sure you don’t make use of plastic sheets or bags. Plastic won’t allow for air circulation and will trap any moisture, causing condensation inside and destroying the books. Newspaper is also not a good idea, as it’s acidic and can cause damage. The ink is another problem, as it’ll cause a chemical reaction. If you want to use paper, there’s a special archival paper that’s acid free and perfect for using on valuable books. 

From this, we should also learn that newspaper clipping, printed bookmarks, or business cards are also not good items to place inside a book for the long term. 

3. Get a Container

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Books should be stored in a container or bin. This will further prevent any bugs, pests, dust, or moisture from getting to the books. If you’re using a plastic container, make doubly sure that the books are completely dry so that no moisture is left inside. To be absolutely safe, insert some packets of silica gel in the containers before shutting them. 

The box or container should be rigid, so that the books don’t get damaged if someone drops it. Small boxes made of cardboard are okay if you’re storing the books for a short time, but go for acid-free archival boxes or plastic containers if you want long-term storage. 

4.Invest in a Climate Controlled Unit

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If you can manage it, spring for a climate controlled storage unit. This will cost a bit, but preserving your books is worth it. After all, books can be an investment for the long run. If you want to preserve some really valuable editions or want to pass down the books to the next generation in your family, spending a little more isn’t a bad idea. With climate control, the books will stay in a steady temperature and be free from most kinds of damage. 

5. Store in a Vertical Position

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When you put the books in a storage bin or container, make sure they’re vertical. The edges of the pages should face up, which helps in perfecting their shape. With this arrangement, one book will lend support to the one next to it. 

Also, make sure there aren’t too many books crammed into a single container. This sort of jamming can cause warping in the book spines. 

6. Keep Checking on Them

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Books are counted as sensitive items, so don’t just put them in storage and leave them there. Set a reminder and plan to check on the books on a regular basis. If there’s even a hint of damage, you can deal with it quickly so that the issue doesn’t spread around. 

7. Dust Before Storing

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A soft and dry paint brush is your best bet for removing dust from your book covers as well as the pages. The point here is to ensure that no sort of dampness touches the book. Make sure you don’t use a damp cloth to wipe them down. 

8. Airing Out

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Before storage, air out your book, especially if they smell musty or feel damp. If the books are damp, they grow mildew when they’re stored away. If you see any mildew already on the books, don’t put them in storage. You’ll have to get professional help to store them in the right way and to treat the mildew. 

9. Checking for Insects

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Insects or insect eggs could be hiding inside your book pages, so be sure to check for those when you’re dusting your collection. Insect eggs are like little black seeds and might be stuck between the binding and the pages. 

In case there are eggs on any part of the book, the only way to go is a deep and thorough cleaning. This is not the place to use bug spray, insecticides, or any other method for killing bugs. The chemicals, even in a homemade spray, are likely to damage the book beyond repair. 

 

10. Protect the Dust Jackets

 

Hardcover book are among the most expensive options for any edition, so you want to preserve those especially well. Many hardcovers already come with dust jackets, which can be fragile and prone to tearing. This is why you should add an extra layer of packing around a hardcover book. 

The main purpose of dust jackets is to protect the book, but maintaining them is also important if you want to make sure of the book’s value. Collectors and museums would pay more for a book with a dust jacket that looks brand new. If the dust jacket tears or is missing, you can expect your book’s value to go down. 

Conclusion

A book collection is precious and personal for those who love books. This is why many people would like to store their books as safely as possible. Of course, the best way to deal with a lot of books is to have them in a bookcase and give them a lot of air circulation. However, this can take up a lot of space and need maintenance on an almost daily basis. You might also want to store books when moving or until you have the space for them. With the proper planning and a bit of time, you can follow the tips above and preserve your books until it’s time to utilize them.