How to Store Books and Care for Them

Categories: Facility


School has started again across the country. New books are being purchased and old ones are
being stored. We might assume that we know how to store books, because  we have done so many times, but assumptions can lead us astray sometimes. These are some general tips for long-term book storage.

When storing books in boxes, make sure you don’t put too many in. Overstuffed boxes can
split or break, so the books won’t be well protected.

Also, if you pick up an over packed box of books, the bottom of the box might break and the books
could fall and become damaged. They could also fall on your foot and cause pain or even injury.
Also, over packing boxes with books can make it harder to get them out later when you need to
retrieve them.

Don’t select boxes that are too big, or you might not be able to pick them up. You also might
injure your back carrying overly large, heavy boxes.

Use acid-free, and lignin-free boxes because acid and lignins can contribute to book damage.
If you want to be even more careful, you can place an acid-free sheet of paper between each book
within an acid-free and lignin-free box. (Lignins are found in plants and they can react with
heat and light to form acids, which can damage books.)

Place book boxes in spaces that are not at risk for flooding, high heat or high humidity. Also, books should not be stored in places with extreme temperature changes.

Heavier books should be put in the bottom of a box, and lighter ones on top. If the lighter ones were placed on the bottom, they could suffer some damage.

In order to prevent books boxes from becoming soaked, it may be a good idea to keep them
above floor level, in the event there is any pooling of rainwater runoff, or snow and ice

Any materials which are bound in leather, should not be stored in hot and very dry conditions
or the leather may crack.

Books should also not be stored near hot air vents or radiators; nor should they be stored in musty, damp basements. Mildew and mold have damaged many cherished books—in some cases they can’t be cleaned or restored, so they need to be thrown out.

Additionally, mildew and mold are unhealthy for us, so we don’t want to provide opportunities for them to grow.

Depending on how long books are kept in storage, it might be a good idea to clean them periodically, by brushing off any dust. This can be done with a new paint brush, and gently sweeping off the dust. Mildew can form on dust too, so it is better to keep books dust-free.

The various publications and tomes we have in our possession may be very valuable to us, so it is important that we know how to store books properly.

One might assume book storage is simply placing books in an old cardboard box and then putting the box in the garage or basement, but there is much more to it. Books need to be respected and cared for if they are going to last.

We hope you learned something useful in this post about how to store books.

Thanks for reading 🙂

Image Credit: Johannes Jansson/, CC by 2.5