If you're a serious book collector, it's vital that you create an environment in your home or storage area that will help these irreplaceable tomes thrive. There are 5 basic keys to proper book and document storage that any collector can implement. Here's a handy guide to all 5.
Temperature and Humidity. You will need to maintain a consistent temperature and moisture level in the archive area. Books are usually less susceptible to mold, insects, harmful chemical reactions, and warping when stored at a temperature around 70 degrees and a relative humidity level of 30–50%. Because humidity levels in homes can vary widely depending on the days and seasons, you may want to invest in a good dehumidification system that can monitor and maintain the moisture content of the air. Look for a qualified contractor who is familiar with humidity control to get the best result.
Lighting. Light is a book's natural enemy, so avoid harsh light sources such as windows, skylights, fluorescent lights, and anything that emits ultraviolet rays. If there are nearby windows in your archive area, you can minimize exposure (but still have usable lighting sources) by using darkening shades or drapes. Avoid leaving lights on near the books when you're not actively attending to your collection.
Proper Placement. Unsurprisingly, bookshelves are a good way to store books, as long as the shelf material is metal or a properly sealed wood. Place the books comfortably on the shelf—never squeeze them into a space—and use a good bookend to keep them in place. If you have oversized books, you can store them either flat or with their spine downward . . . but never with the spine facing upward.
Regular Cleaning. The cliche of dusty old books sitting on a shelf isn't actually representative of good collecting practices. Instead, clean your archive regularly to protect it from dust and mold that can damage covers, paper, and ink. Cleaners with HEPA filters and cloths that attract dust are good choices for your books. Be sure to also check for signs of insects and other pests as well.
Good Handling. When moving books that are stored upright on shelves, be sure to use gloves and avoid grabbing them from the spine, since this will eventually cause damage. Instead, grip them from the sides of the spine and always support the entire book with two hands.
No matter what type of books or manuscripts you enjoy collecting, using these proper storage procedures will help guarantee that you can continue to enjoy them for years to come.