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  Protecting and safely storing space books

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Author Topic:   Protecting and safely storing space books

Posts: 593
From: Ireland
Registered: May 2014

posted 12-11-2023 02:38 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for gareth89   Click Here to Email gareth89     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I have a rather large collection of books ranging from coffee table books to softbacks, some signed, some not but all space related and important to me!

I was wondering if anyone has any ideas or recommendations for storage/protection of these books as I am starting to get concerned about wear and tear, dust and shelf damage. Does anyone have any suggestions?


Posts: 6358
From: Geneva, Switzerland
Registered: May 2006

posted 12-11-2023 05:02 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for cspg   Click Here to Email cspg     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I've placed all my books into resealable bags (see for example) to protect them from dust and humidity.

Probably not the best protection especially if you care about the esthetic aspect of your library/book shelves, but as long as the books are protected, I'm ok with this option.

Robert Pearlman

Posts: 51500
From: Houston, TX
Registered: Nov 1999

posted 12-11-2023 09:59 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
The U.S. Library of Congress offers some advice on the preservation of books here. With regards to storage, the library's staff recommends:
  • A cool (room temperature or below), relatively dry (about 35% relative humidity), clean, and stable environment (avoid attics, basements, and other locations with high risk of leaks and environmental extremes)

  • Minimal exposure to all kinds of light; no exposure to direct or intense light

  • Distance from radiators and vents

  • Regular dusting and housekeeping

  • Shelving books of similar size together, so that the face of the covers are maximally supported by the neighbors on each side

  • Keeping upright shelved books straight and not leaning (storing books lying flat is also good)


Posts: 6358
From: Geneva, Switzerland
Registered: May 2006

posted 12-11-2023 10:11 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for cspg   Click Here to Email cspg     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Books lying flat is probably good if they're paperpack/softcover. For harback books, you don't to have the books' binding on top of another.


Posts: 2354
From: McKinney TX (USA)
Registered: Aug 2005

posted 12-11-2023 11:59 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for capoetc   Click Here to Email capoetc     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
You can also buy archival book boxes for books that are either valuable or particularly valuable to you.

Any book conservator can either custom make them for you or recommend a place that can do it. You can also find good options online. you may be able to geta discount if you are ordering multiple boxes, but I recommend just ordering one at first to make sure you are satisfied with the service and quality.

These boxes are custom made to each book, so they are not especially cheap but I have found them to be the best long term option to protect important books.

Speaking of which, I need to put an order in myself!


Posts: 533
Registered: Sep 2001

posted 12-11-2023 01:17 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for kosmo     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Self sealing Mylar bags work great. There are a couple of companies that make these. They come in different sizes, they don’t fit perfectly, because there made for more flat items, but they are archival and do a good job of protecting.


Posts: 533
Registered: Sep 2001

posted 12-11-2023 01:21 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for kosmo     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I forgot to add that if the books have dust covers, they make Mylar covers for the book dust covers


Posts: 1736
From: Washington, DC, USA
Registered: Apr 2003

posted 12-11-2023 02:12 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for micropooz   Click Here to Email micropooz     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
If you are keeping the books on a bookshelf, consider getting a piece of glass cut to fit the shelf, and put it between the shelf and books. That creates an inert barrier between the books and the chemicals in whatever paint/finish has been applied to the shelf.

Don't do this with plastic - some plastics have chemicals in them that can ruin paper goods. Use glass.


Posts: 322
Registered: Aug 2018

posted 12-11-2023 08:17 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for hbw60   Click Here to Email hbw60     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Several people here have mentioned Mylar bags/sleeves. To a point, I agree (all of my hardcover book jackets have been covered with Brodart sleeves, which are what most libraries use on their hardcovers). However, sealing up the jackets - or the books themselves - can trap moisture within, leading to foxing and mold. You can use dehumidifiers and oxygen absorbers to minimize this. However, if you take that too far, the paper will become dry and flaky. If you really want to preserve these to the top degree possible, you'd need a thermometer and a hygrometer, along with the proper equipment to keep all of the atmospheric levels at their recommended settings.

But in my opinion, if you start going down this route then you will never truly enjoy your books again. Because if you're the sort of person who takes extreme care of your books, the most damaging thing you can do is to read them. Every time you open a book, you crack the glue in the binding. You expose the pages to the UV rays in the air and the oils in your skin. You bend the paper and risk eventual warping. It's not possible to enjoy a book collection without doing a little harm.

So my philosophy is to just do your best, and not worry about being too strict. I use Mylar sleeves on the dust jackets, to keep them looking nice. I keep my bookshelf out of direct sunlight to prevent fading on the spines. And I properly "break in" my hardcovers by pre-cracking the spine, which (if done properly) will greatly reduce the strain on the spine whenever the book is read - see this video for instructions.

But unless a book is a priceless, centuries-old antique, there's little point in taking too much care of it. Books will age no matter what you do. Even the best paper will degrade over centuries. And most modern books are printed on factory-milled paper that begins to yellow after a few years.

Besides, it's unreasonable to think that after we die, future generations will care about these books the way we did. The vast majority of inherited books go right into thrift stores, eBay auctions, or garbage bins. So I think book lovers should focus on keeping the books in good shape for themselves, and not worry about long-term conservation. And for that, you just need to exercise common sense.


Posts: 285
From: Derbyshire UK
Registered: Mar 2023

posted 12-12-2023 05:56 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Axman   Click Here to Email Axman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I endorse everything that hbw60 says above.

The easiest way to look after books is to treat them with respect when reading them. Do not flatten the book thereby cracking the spine. All of my books look like they have just come off the shelf from a bookstore. I once lent a book to a friend who simply read it and returned it - it looked like a horror show, with the spine all cracked and concave/tube shaped; apparently all his books are in that condition once its been read as he bends the front around to touch the back as a matter of course.

Also just take care about cleanliness: do not read when eating, only read with clean hands, make sure the book is only placed on clean and dry surfaces, etc.

Lecture over.

All times are CT (US)

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