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Protecting Your Books for Storage

Reading material these days is commonly in eBook format, but there’s nothing quite like pulling a good ‘ole paper publication. And if you’re the type of person who has collected a good number of them, you’ll want to take care of them so they’ll last for a long time to come. Many books have been well preserved for centuries of humanity’s history thanks to proper care and conditions. Correct storage conditions are everything for long book life. We’ll share with you five easy tips from professional booksellers on how to achieve them for storing books, newspapers, and magazines.

#1: Avoid Moisture At All Costs

Moisture is paper’s worst enemy and can lead to mold or browning of the pages, called “foxing.” The ideal environment for books would be 40% humidity at 65 degrees. This balance must stay consistent and not fluctuate too much in the storage area, otherwise, there’s little point in storing them. Do NOT store books in a basement, attic, or garage. These are some of the worst places to store books. You want store books or newspapers in a cool, dry environment. It’s much better (and easier) to store them in your own personal library. Though if space is an issue, looking into a climate-controlled storage unit is a good option as well.

#2: Protection from Harmful UV Rays

Pay attention to the position of the sunlight if the storage area has windows. UV rays aren’t very kind to books and will fade them faster than anything, so keep printed literature away from that sun! Windows facing south will do the most damage. (In the Southern Hemisphere, it’s windows facing north.)

#3: Organizing Your Collection

Marie Kondo’s first tip to organizing your books by first waking them up. That entails pulling them all from your self and patting them awake. There’s no limit on the number of books a person can own, however, now would be a good time to look over your collection and keep the titles that spark joy. You may find books or newspapers that are no longer worth holding on to. These can be donated to your local library. If you’re not quite ready to let go of certain titles keeping them in storage is another option.

#4: Dusting Your Books

While you’re looking over your collection, now is a good time to dust them. It’s always a good idea to dust your books periodically to lengthen their life, and especially if they’re stored open on a shelf. Dust them with a chemical-free duster towards the spines to prevent making scratches and tearing the jacket corners. Avoid any cleaning wipes that have the chance of introducing moisture.

#5: Airing Out Your Books

While your collection is out you should also check to see if any of your books feel damp or has a musty smell. This means that your books will have to air out before they are put into storage. If you spot mold or mildew on the pages you should not let it come into contact with your other books when in storage. You’ll either have to discard this book or if it holds sentimental or actual value you should seek out professional assistance.

#6: Inspect for Bugs

Another problem to look for is any bugs or pests. Small insect eggs and look like tiny black seeds or dots. If you spot these, don’t break out the bug spray as the chemicals can damage the pages. Instead take an old (dry) toothbrush and lightly brush away any of the pests you may find.

#7: Position is Everything

Once storing your books is complete, it’s quite possible that they will be left where you have them for months or years at a time. Store books and magazines horizontally rather than upright to protect their spines and not stretch them into a ‘pyramid’ shape. Resist the urge to fill up the spaces and cheat! They will need the airspace to circulate anyway. For newspapers, store them folded up flat in half like a newsstand. Protect newspaper pages with acid-free lining if there are certain articles you would be interested in saving. It’s also a good idea to keep the jackets on hardcover books, if possible. Not only will they help you identify the book, but they will also help protect them from dents, nicks, and scratches. Even rare books end up in the bargain bin if their covers show signs of damage and wear.

#8: Sturdy Storage Containers

Thick cardboard boxes are great for moving your literature collection, but not so much for long-term storage. Boxes don’t allow airspace to flow through the paper and can collect moisture over time. It’s better to store them in sturdy plastic bins or horizontally on a bookshelf instead.

#9: Removing Inserts and Bookmarks

Last but not least, it’s worth the time to go through your books and remove any inserts, “dog ears,” and bookmarks. (Yes, even the novels that you haven’t finished all the chapters yet. Sorry.) If you leave them in, they will create permanent indents in the pages and affect the integrity of their spines. If you would like to keep the bookmark with the book, store it in a plastic bag along with the book, but outside it close by. Be sure not to sandwich the bookmarks inside the stacks. Store them next to the stack instead.

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Storage Rentals of America is your convenient self-storage solution. We have storage unit facilities across Delaware, Florida, Kentucky, Ohio, New Jersey, and South Carolina. So come into our office or give our storage experts a call. Our call center is available 7 days a week and can help determine which storage unit size best fits your unique storage situation.