The Care and Maintenance of Books

This is a short introduction to the care of your books, and covers only the basic guidelines. For additional information or specific questions, please contact us.

How do I store my books?

Never store your books in an unfinished attic or a basement. These two parts of your home are the least insulated and therefore the most subject to changes in temperature and more importantly, moisture levels. Books kept in either of these places are often mouldy or musty. Either state is considered poor condition, and of no value. In addition, mustiness is caused by a living spore that grows and multiplies in other books and can spread to your entire collection. Many people have allergies to these spores, meaning that you might not be able to pass on your library to your descendants if they have allergies. Also, both basements and attics have other occupants which do not agree with books.

How do I store my antique or valuable books?

Books are best kept the traditional way, upright, on a shelf. This is the way they were designed to be stored. It's also best to keep books out of direct sunlight, which causes them to fade. Windows can also pose a problem if they are too close to your books, because of changes in moisture and temperature levels, and the dampness caused by condensation on your window pane. The ultimate in book care is keeping them dust free. Very large books (big family Bibles) should be store on their side. Don't pack your books too tightly on the shelf. When you try to pull them off, you may rip the top of the spine. And always wash your hands before handling valuable books. The organic nature of paper and leather means that most antique books can handle the natural oils on your hands, but they can't handle other things, like food or chemicals.

How can I repair my old book?

Repairing a book yourself is tricky and we don't recommend it. There are bookbinders that spend years apprenticing and learning the trade, so it's not something you can do overnight. First, determine the value of your book in the condition to which you will have it repaired. Then, determine the cost of the repair. For cases where a book has sentimental value, it may not matter to you. Ask us to refer you to a bookbinder.
For torn dustjackets, often a Mylar jacket can hold the pieces together. Never use scotch tape or other adhesives, as it is very damaging to paper. Regular glue that is not designed for book repair has high acidity, and will stain your book permanently.