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Environmental control is the most important factor in preservation. Store your valuable books in archival containers to stabilize them, and keep the containers in a place where there is good air circulation and the temperature and humidity remain stable. Avoid attics or basements unless you have extraordinary climate control installed.
High temperature and high humidity enable the acidic reactions which contribute to paper deterioration. Storing books at lower temperatures can significantly extend their lifespan; one authority states that the lifespan of paper materials is almost doubled at each 10-degree (F) reduction in temperature. A constant storage temperature of 68 degrees (F) is considered ideal, but the constancy is as important as the temperature. Wide fluctuations in temperature can be extremely damaging.
Humidity also must be controlled; humidity below 40% can cause paper to become dry and brittle, whereas more than 60% humidity can soften paper and increase acidic decay. 50% humidity is deemed acceptable by preservationists; again, it is as important to avoid variation as it is to avoid extremes.
Humidity levels in an enclosed storage area can be maintained with a small air conditioning unit, a dehumidifier and/or a humidifier. Inexpensive commercial humidity gauges are frequently inaccurate; use a wet-dry thermometer or sling psychrometer to control conditions.
Dry books and papers slowly:
1. Place books on end with leaves separated.
2. When they are partially dry, pile and press books to keep pages from crumpling.
3. Alternate drying and pressing until books are thoroughly dry. This helps prevent mildew. Use a fan to hasten drying.
4. If books and papers are very damp, sprinkle cornstarch or talcum powder between the leaves to absorb moisture. Leave powder for several hours and then brush off.
5. When books are nearly dry, apply low heat with an electric iron. Separate the pages to prevent musty odors. This is a tedious process, which you may want to use only with valuable books.
6. When books are thoroughly dry, close them and use C-clamps to help them retain their shape.
Even if books and papers appear to have dried successfully, they may disintegrate rapidly because of materials in the flood water. Any important documents or paper should be photocopied as a precautionary measure.
This article was written by Anne Field, Extension
Specialist, Emeritus, with reference from the USDA
Exposure to the ultraviolet rays of sunlight and fluorescent light causes the rapid deterioration of paper, leather and fabrics; similar, but less severe deterioration will occur with exposure to visible light, the rays at the red end of the spectrum being less damaging than those at the blue end.
The visible effects of light include: the bleaching or fading of paper; and the yellowing or browning such as rapidly occurs with newsprint. Not immediately visible is the breakdown of fibers into smaller units, causing the paper to disintegrate. Unfortunately, the reactions continue after the source of the problem is removed, although at a slower rate.
Other factors being equal, paper stored in complete darkness will last far longer than that which is subjected to light. However, as totally dark storage is not usually practical, other precautions must be taken. Paper should never be stored in direct sunlight or under unshielded fluorescent tubes. Special ultraviolet-filtering materials, such as UF-3 Plexiglas or Acrylite OP-2, may be used to shield windows or fixtures.
One-Drop Deodorant for Smelly Books
Look for a small bottle of liquid deodorant (maybe 6 inches high, including a drop dispensing lid) at the drugstore or grocery store. The pet food and car product aisles are good prospects. If the instructions say to place one drop of the deodorant on/in a glass container, you've found the correct product. (There are many brand names; most of the liquids I've seen are green.)
It is most effective to build a small chamber for the books by putting a cardboard box into a plastic trash bag. Then stand the books open, put one drop of the deodorant onto a glass dish in the corner of the box, and tie up the plastic bag. Check the books daily, at which time another drop of deodorant can be added. Mild smells are gone in a couple of days, and nasty problems can take a week to cure.
I've described this product to dozens of callers over the last 10 years, and no-one has called back for further help.
Optimum book storage: Put books on a shelf tall enough for them, and deep enough to leave air space behind, sitting upright, with books of similar size together. Locate the shelf away from the sun, and not against an outside wall, particularly an uninsulated one; in an air-conditioned or otherwise temperature-controlled room. If you MUST store your books in boxes, do so for only a short time; cardboard is acidic and will yellow your books very quickly.
Sometimes you will buy an older book, and find it has a musty odor. I have seen a number of recommendations about putting the book in a bag with cat litter, activated charcoal or baking soda. This can work with books made of a fairly coarse paper, but not coated paper. Place the book into a paper bag with a container of baking soda (which seems to work best) and close the bag; leave it alone for about 2 weeks. According to one source, this works "about half the time."
Libraries sometimes place such books into a fume hood with a container holding Lysol-soaked cotton balls. After leaving the fume hood on 24 hours a day for a week, they report the odor is "greatly diminished."
Adhesive-backed cellophane tapes such as "Scotch" and "Magic Mending" tape are not generally appropriate for repairs to books which have any value. Both will cause staining and are difficult to remove without damaging the paper. Gummed paper tapes are not recommended. as the tape itself is often acidic, causing discoloration of the paper.
GLUE & PASTE
Rubber cement, frequently used to repair damaged bindings, will also cause stains, and eventually will dry out and lose adhesion. Polyvinyl acetate glues such as "Elmer's Glue" are impossible to remove without damaging the paper. These emulsions are also usually acidic, and will discolor and deteriorate paper over time.
The majority of commercially available pastes are acidic in nature, due to the addition of alum as a drying agent; these become brittle and discolored and will similarly damage the paper to which they are applied. Additionally, as most pastes are water-based, they can cause cockling of the paper, and even make certain inks and colors run or bleed.
You should dust your books at least annually. Do each book individually by removing it from the shelf and holding it tightly closed. Brush the dust away from the top surface and edges with a soft brush, like a drafting brush or wide camel's hair brush. Wipe the covers with a soft, dry cloth.
Paper is an organic material composed of cellulose fibers from plants. Papers made from the Twelfth Century to the middle of the Nineteenth Century were strong and durable, as they were made by hand, generally from cotton or flax (linen) plant fibers, which are low-acid. Hand processing produced longer fibers and thicker, stronger paper. Many books and documents published prior to 1850 are still in excellent condition.
Modern paper is generally made from wood fibers which have been mechanically ground to a pulp for newsprint, and then chemically purified for books and writing papers. The fibers are very short. Alum-rosin compounds used as sizing agents generate sulfuric acid under humid conditions, further breaking down the cellulose fibers.
Inexpensive modern papers, such as those used in paperback books, have an expected useful life of less than 30 years. Better quality modern papers may contain recycled cotton or linen fibers ("Rag Content"), making them more durable. Fortunately, the publishing industry has become aware the impermanency of modern papers, and quality books are now frequently printed on "acid-free" stock.
Failure to use acid-free folders, matting boards and materials (see SOURCES) for records storage will result in acid migration, the movement of acids from acidic materials to those which are less acidic. A familiar example of acid migration is the brownish discoloration commonly observed on a page where newspaper clippings have been stored in old books.
Storing books in the correct ranges of temperature and humidity will prevent the growth of mold. However, mold spores are always present in the air and in the dust that settles on books; and, if the recommended conditions are not maintained, the danger of mold growth and damage to documents exists.
A relative humidity of 70% combined with high temperatures encourages the growth of mold or mildew, although some molds will grow at temperatures as low as 40- degrees Fahrenheit if the humidity is high.
Stagnant air conditions also favor mold or mildew attacks. Once started, mold is difficult to control and serious damage may occur before the condition is detected; prevention is far easier than correction.
The environment should be monitored on a regular basis to avoid the conditions favoring the growth of mold. In the initial stages, mold growth may be little more than a nuisance. The visible evidence can be brushed away, and the item can be stored under recommended conditions without further concern. In later stages, mold will digest the material upon which it grows, resulting in staining (foxing) and loss of strength of the material.
Cook Books tend to get dirty with use in the kitchen. One way to protect them is to use clear Con-Tact(R) "paper" as a book cover. Plastic jackets are nice, but are loose enough for food particles to get underneath. The clear plastic adheres to the book cover so nothing can get under it. It´s clear so you can read the cover. It´s also easy to wipe clean with a damp cloth. Be sure you fold it neatly at the corners, to prevent loosening and peeling. Although it is not normally a good idea to use adhesives on books, cookbooks are a special case.
DV Book Manager 1.5
DV Book Manager is a shareware application that lets you manage your books easily and intuitively.
It is built to answer the needs of people who own a large amount of books and who need a computer's help to manage them efficiently. It allows you to define a range of different fields relating to your books, and can then search or sort them. These fields include 8 keywords, a long summary, and links to files or Internet addresses. The field names can be personalized.
To build your personal library, participate in Amazon's Wish List. Like a bridal registry, you must go to the web site and list the books you want. Add the e-mail addresses of people you think might want to buy them for you, and presto! Amazon.com e-mails your list for you.
Damage from air-borne pollutants is most evident in old books and in stacks of old papers, where the edges of pages are discolored from acid deterioration while the center portions remain almost white. Certain gases such as sulfur dioxide, hydrogen sulfide and nitrogen dioxide originate from burning fossil fuels and are most serious in industrial areas. As large and expensive filtering devices are necessary for removal, no economical means of protection is available for the small collector.
Some of the compounds are not dangerous until combined with other compounds to form acids; for example, sulfur dioxide is catalyzed by other airborne compounds to form sulfur trioxide, which unites with water vapor to form sulfuric acid. Ozone, a pungent gas generated by the interaction of sunlight and nitrogen dioxide from auto exhaust and one which is also prevalent around electric motors and after thunderstorms, causes the oxidation and consequent embrittlement of paper.
As dirt and dust carry absorbed pollutants which can be abrasive to books and paper, air in a storage room should be filtered, with frequent changes of filters in the system. Where filtration is not possible, objects can be stored in closed containers; if used, plastic bags should not be tightly sealed. Exhibit cases which are sealed against dust and dirt should provide air circulation through filters. As stagnant air increases the possibility of mold growth, any material stored in closed containers should be checked frequently. Also, the area should be cleaned and vacuumed regularly to eliminate dust and dirt buildup on any materials.
Want to get into book making, to create your own journals, or make personalized gift books for friends? Here are some excellent references for the creation of homemade books; just click the links below to find out more:
Making Journals by Hand : 20 Creative Projects for Keeping Your Thoughts
The Essential Guide to Making Handmade Books
Art of the Scrapbook:A Guide to Handbinding and Decorating Memory Books, Albums, and Art Journals
Hand-bound books make fantastic gifts. You'll never have more fun impressing your friends!
It is possible to remove most oily or greasy stains from book pages. You will need some paper towels, a dry cleaning pad (available at drafting supply stores and most stationers) and a soft-bristled brush.
First, place paper towels between the affected pages. Close the book and weight it with another book of similar size, then leave it alone for a few hours. Discard the paper towels and examine the pages.
If there are still some stains, take the dry-cleaning pad and twist and squeeze it (or even cut a corner) to sprinkle the powder inside onto the stain. Cover the stain as completely as possible and leave the book lying open for a few hours. Brush the powder away with a soft brush. For very stubborn stains, rub the powder in VERY gently with a gauze pad, and let sit overnight.
Residual powder can be removed with a small hand vac. Vacuum from gutter to edge.
Try Brodart - they are on line and have a large selection. They have, in fact, become part of the language, ie. "Did you Brodart your new book?" There are plenty of other suppliers as well, along with a number of sources on eBay. Just make sure you specify archival quality so that you will still be happy in another 30 years.
Never repair your "keeper" books with scotch tape or glue. Most glues and all household pressure-sensitive tapes are highly acidic, and will damage the paper … that´s why those brown stains develop on pages where tape was applied. There is a special transparent tape available from conservation suppliers, made for use on books.
Insects and Rodents
Insects and rodents are attracted by the cellulose of the paper, the proteins and carbohydrates of gelatin sizing, glue, paste, leather and other organic substances. The most certain way to avoid insects and rodents is to practice good housekeeping: keep food away from the storage area, screen windows, and kill any insects or rodents observed.
As a further precaution against insects, one can place small open containers of paradichlorobenzene (the active ingredient of moth crystals) on bookshelves. Paradichlorobenzene is a poison and must be placed beyond the reach of children! If insects are found in stored documents, one can place them in a covered container with paradichlorobenzene for three weeks, an ample time to eliminate insects and their eggs. Paradichlorobenzene is available in drug, discount and general stores under various trade names. The material readily vaporizes and requires periodic replacement.
Silverfish may be eliminated with a sweetened mixture of 1-3/4 cups wheatflour or oatmeal ground to flour, 1/4 teaspoon sodium fluoride (available in drug stores), 1/2 teaspoon granulated sugar, and 1/4 teaspoon salt; once mixed, the powder can be placed in shallow cardboard boxes loosely covered with crumpled sheets of paper. The mixture is ample for several good sized rooms, and the boxes may be placed in areas where silverfish are known to occur Mix the ingredients thoroughly and it is ready to use. This powder should also work on various other insect pests. Sprays should be avoided because of the chance of staining materials.
The Children's Hospital Guide to Your Child's Health and Development -- by Alan D. Woolf (Editor)
A very useful compendium of information on the health and development of children from birth to adolescence. It's presented in a concise, authoritative format, with clear, simple illustrations.
Find it here: Children's Health
Book Dealer Software for Macintosh Users
Parmer Books, Jean Marie and Jerry Parmer
7644 Forrestal Rd, San Diego CA 92120-2203
USA Ph. 619 287 0693, Fax 619 287 6135 Anytime.
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Parmer Books' BookStacks comes complete with 'stack' interfaces for your Customer Address List, Book Inventory, Quotes, Catalogs, Want Lists and Invoices. The System will also Export Books for Sale and wants to On-Line Data Bases like ABE, Bibliofind, Bibliocity, Alibris, Automated Bookman, and BookMatch Network .
This comprehensive, easy-to-use, low-cost software runs on any Mac with at least 4Mb of RAM and an 80Mb hard drive.* BookStacks is built on HyperCard(r) Scripter application so you can customize BookStacks to meet your needs. They also include a HyperCard Player version if you don't have this application.
$195. Demo Disk $25 (applies to purchase)
Before repairing a book using any water-based material, such as rice paste, you should check to be sure the inks used in the book are not water soluble. If they are, the moisture in the paste may cause inks and colors to run or bleed.
You can check for water solubility of inks by lightly moistening a cotton swab with distilled water and carefully touching the different inks or colors. Using a fresh swab for each, examine the cotton for any color transfer and spot check for running or bleeding.
For most people, the extent of their knowledge about book repair stops at a roll of scotch tape. Though this can be a good temporary fix, you should know a few basics to help you repair every day damage to get the most out of your books. The first type of every day damage that most books encounter is folded or torn pages. This is a problem that most people fix with a simple strip of tape or straightening out. With a completely removed corner, it is almost always better to leave it alone than it is to try and reattach the corner. Unless it is essential to the book, a corner does not make enough difference to potentially damage your book. Tape can be very acidic and can serve as another point of stress where you book may tear if it is used as the primary repair method.
Another issue that many people face is a torn or broken spine. Unless you have professional grade binding glue you will never really get the brand new spine back. The first step to repair the spine of a book is to get webbing or cheese cloth and cut it to fit the spine of the book. With the cheese cloth in place, use something like rubber cement or another viscous glue that will not run or seep into the pages. The cheese cloth will act as both a reinforcement and a barrier between the book and the glue that you are applying, and will help make your repair more permanent. You then need to allow the book to sit undisturbed for about 24 hours. If you have a spine cover or some sort of art that you want to place on the spine, you can apply it after the repair has completely dried.
The last sort of damage that many books face is a removed or torn out page. This is a bit harder to fix as most people want to tape the page back in. In this case, it is essential that you either glue the page back in much as you would a spine repair with a glue like rubber cement in a very thin layer. Now gluing pages back in almost always ends up in other pages being glued together which is not ideal but in some cases it is the only option. If you want to use tape you should be sure that the strips are small, narrow, and that you have removed some of the glue from the back of the strip to prevent damage to neighboring pages.
Most homes feature a series of bookshelves of some sort that are most likely filled with books and keepsakes from over the years. While bookshelves are a great place to store your books temporarily, if you have old, rare, or specially bound books, you should consider alternate storage. The main issue with shelf storage is the weakening of the binding which occurs when the books are stored upright on a shelf for too long. As the years pass, the pressure of the weight of the book is enough that it can warp or deform the binding making it both unattractive and weaker than it previously was. If you are insistent on shelf storage you may want to consider storing your books on their sides instead of upright to ease the pressure on the binding. Another issue with shelf storage is that there is no way to regulate the temperature or humidity of the storage area. It is open to the room and the heat fluctuates according to the temperature of the room. Some books have temperature sensitive binding that can be damaged by extreme fluctuations in heat. Finding a temperature controlled environment is far safer for preserving the binding of older books. Though building a temperature controlled storage facility for your books may be out of the question for some people, you can invest in storage drawers or containers that have a much more stable temperature and moisture level.
Two things: 1. Keep it dry. 2. Keep it out of the sun Those two elements are killers when it comes to preserving old books. Moisture will do permanent damage, either through the development of damp-stain or mold. If you have a moldy book the best solution is to get rid of it although there are a few products that might help. If the book has a dust jacket, protect it with a mylar cover to preserve it as long as possible. A dust jacket can account for a major portion of the value of an old book.
A mixture of 60% neats-foot oil and 40% anhydrous lanolin by volume is one of the safest dressings for most leather bindings. The mixture can be made by melting the lanolin in a double boiler and mixing in the proper amount of neat's-foot oil.
The lanolin is available from drug stores; and the neat's-foot oil, from hardware stores, shoes stores, saddlery shops and some drug stores. Be sure to buy pure neat's-foot oil, rather than a mixture.
Apply the dressing with a pad of cheesecloth or cotton using a patting motion; brushes are not satisfactory, as one has little control over the amount of dressing being applied. In patting on the dressing, one must use great care to avoid staining any paper or cloth parts of the cover or any pages of the text. Several thin coats, applied carefully and thoroughly to small areas at a time, are preferable to one heavy coat. Excessive dressing may bleed through the spine, staining the text and embrittling the pages as the oil oxidizes; a piece of waxed paper inserted between the covers and the text will reduce this as a possibility.
Before use, the treated books should allowed to absorb the dressing for a period of 12 to 24 hours. The treatment should be repeated every two to five years, depending upon storage conditions; when the leather begins to feel dried out and somewhat brittle, another treatment is necessary. Once leather has reached a powdery consistency, the treatment is not effective.
Polyvinyl acetate emulsions, lacquers and varnishes should never be used on leather bindings; they may cause bindings to stick together.
The above are general suggestions which should not be applied indiscriminately to all leather-bound books. If dealing with very valuable books, one should consult a professional conservator.
On porous or light-colored leather, water solutions will create dark stains and, with all leathers, can cause hardening of the material. If a binding is dirty, surface grime can be removed with a soft lintless cloth slightly dampened with water, potassium lactate or saddle soap. One should first try to clean an inconspicuous spot to be certain darkening will not occur; and, if saddle soap is used, all soap residue must be removed, using clean soft rags.
Parmer Books, Jean Marie and Jerry Parmer
7644 Forrestal Rd, San Diego CA 92120-2203
USA Ph. 619 287 0693, Fax 619 287 6135 Anytime
Collector BookStacks for collection management, value tracking, want list maintainence, and supplier purchase orders and record keeping. Only $95.00 + applicable tax & shipping.
Always losing your bookmark? Don't dogear a page, or break the spine of your book by leaving it face down. Peel a little "chunk" from a pad of small sticky notes, and stick it inside the front cover. Then, if you lose the first one, you'll have another handy! Leftovers can just be shifted to the next book.
|Jennifer Mathes, Ph.D.|