To keep your books in pristine condition, it is not enough to just put them on a shelf or stack them on your nightstand. Below are some of the best tips from librarians and experts that will help preserve books in good condition and prolong their life for years to come.

1. Find the right place

When it comes to storing books, humidity and temperature are the keys. To promote book longevity, the storage area should be a stable, cool, dry and well-ventilated environment.

A room that is too humid or prone to condensation can lead to mould growth and encourage insects like silverfish and roaches, while hot temperatures can turn the bindings and pages dry and brittle. Because of this, experts generally advise against keeping books in the attics, basements and garages. Places near radiators, vents or water pipes are also not recommended.

The British Library recommends keeping your reads in a place that has a relative humidity of 45 to 55 per cent. You can check the humidity level by getting a hygrometer.

2. Stay away from sunlight

Direct sunlight brings a lot of damage on books. Prolonged sunlight exposure can bleach spines and increase the paper’s acid content, allowing for the release of organic acidic vapours and turning the papers yellow and brittle. The US Library of Congress also suggests keeping books away from other intense lights.

3. Keep upright whenever possible

According to the National Library of Scotland, only large, heavy books should be placed flat. Other types of books should be kept upright without leaning to the sides of the shelves in order to protect the covers and spines. Organising books by size and using book stands with books of similar size could help them maintain their shape.

If you have to stack your books, make sure to keep the largest books at the bottom and lighter, smaller ones on top in a pyramid-adjacent shape to prevent the spines from becoming rolled.

Take care not to leave any books open and facing down for any period of time.

4. Clean regularly

Dust your books regularly to prevent dirt from accumulating, which could foster mould growth and pest infestation. To clean a book, take it from the shelf, keep the book closed and use a soft, chemical-free duster to clean it individually. Don’t forget to clean the bookshelves – while they are clear, you can also use this opportunity to vacuum the floor underneath the shelves.

How do you store your books? Share your ideas in the comments.

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