Best Way to Store Books

Erin24November 8, 2005

The time has come to start packing away my kids' picture books ;( because they are growing up --- I have many I want to save -- what is the best way to save them without them turning yellow, etc? TIA

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Cool and dry is the biggest thing. Out of the light. Attics tend to be pretty hot and basements/crawl spaces damp, so they aren't very good storage spots unless they are climate controlled. I would put them in plastic tubs since boxes are wood pulp and not great stuff. You can put those packets of the drying stuff (what is that called? it comes in purses and shoes and is used for drying flowers) in the containers.

Tight sealing if you have common bugs in your area like silverfish. They love to eat the glue.

Smaller containers are better as any books on the bottom will get bent out of shape and compressed if there is too much weight on them unless you are able to stand them upright.

I now live in a cool, dry climate and we don't have book eating bugs, so storage isn't much of problem here. You might check with your local library to see if they have some tips for your climate.

If you are storing them for the grandkids some day they will probably be fine. I still have some of my books, so they have been hauled around for at least 45 years and I know my mom just kept them in cardboard boxes with no care. Weather they yellow or not may have more to do with the actual content and finish on the paper itself. I have several from my oldest son and there hasn't been any discoloration. So that's 18 year since he looked at them?


    Bookmark   November 8, 2005 at 1:19AM
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they may turn yellow on their own; the acidic papers, from trees instead of cotton rag, that we use today are prone to this.

Also, acid-free boxes (or plastic containers) won't give off their own version of whatever it is that makes paper get brittle.

I like all of Gloria's comments, actually. And maybe even toss in cedar balls or something.

    Bookmark   November 8, 2005 at 1:03PM
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I went to a preservation seminar once that talked about saving old books... but I didn't pay close enough attention.

There was something about freezing the books (I forget why) and then putting them individually in acid-free boxes (which you can make yourself to fit the exact size of the book).

If you call your local historical society museum, they should be able to help you. All the supplies can be ordered online to make the boxes, so ask them for the addy.

    Bookmark   November 13, 2005 at 6:15AM
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I think the freezing part is to kill anything that might be in the books. We do this with old quilts, too. That way when you put them into storage you aren't putting them in with active bugs or mildew.

Don't forget that acid-free is still made from a wood product and has to be replaced every few years. When storing my old quilts, I use linen and cotton, rather than acid free tissue paper. Archival is a buzz word for products which places like museums use.


    Bookmark   November 13, 2005 at 2:48PM
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Here's a cheap, but effective, way to make the books damp and bug-resistant.

Make sure the books are dry - wait until the indoor humidity is less than 50%.

Place each book into a plastic bag (polyethelene food bags are acid-free!) and seal it with tape. Take a banker's box and line it with a big plastic trash bag. Pack the bagged books into the box, making sure they are STRAIGHT, not leaning slanty. Also make sure the can't move around, by packing them in with wadded plastic grovery bags.

Keep a list of books, and when the box is full, seal the trash bag over the books and place the list on top of the bag.

    Bookmark   November 13, 2005 at 9:48PM
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I know I'm a month or so late on this thread, but if there is any procrastination as there might be for users of this site, I'm probably in time to share my experience. My children's books have been stored in all kinds of weather conditions for 30 years in taped standard cardboard moving boxes and I have just unpacked them (some of them today) and they are just fine. Some of them were garage sale finds in the first place but I have all the Sendak and Bemelman's just as I put them away all those years ago. I even have some of my own A.A. Milne from the 40s.

I suppose if they were signed first editions it might be different. Photographs from my childhood that I unpacked today, even though they are in archival sleeves, were not in such good shape, but that is another story. I take the point above that archival materials are not forever.

    Bookmark   December 15, 2005 at 8:37PM
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