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The handling and storage of old and rare books
When storing old, delicate and rare books, it's important to take into account both the environment that the books will be stored in as well as the materials used to protect the volumes.
A single sheet of acid-free archival paper should be placed in between each book when placing them inside an acid-free storage container. For further protection it is recommended to wrap each book with archival tissue.
The storage method you choose for your rare books should depend on their size and condition.
Acid-free boxes that will protect the fragile material from light, dust and debris may be an option for some, while simply being placed on a shelf will be a solution for other volumes.
Large, wide or heavy folio-size books are best stored flat, according to the National Library of Scotland (NLS).
Because books could become moldy or permanently damaged if they are exposed to water, it is important to choose a storage space that is not at risk for flooding, humidity or extreme temperature changes.
It's important that leather-bound materials are not exposed to very hot or dry conditions, which can cause the material to crack. Store books away from force-air heating vents, radiators and fire places. Conversely, very cold temperatures will not be beneficial to books, nor will damp environments.
The NLS suggests that the ideal humidity level for a room should be kept between 45 and 60 percent.
Other books will be best stored on bookshelves, at an upright 90 degree angle. They should be supported on either side by books of similar sizes, according to the news source.
Once the proper storage space has been determined, books need to be cared after and maintained, especially if they're on display. Books should be dusted - accumulated debris can be a catalyst for mold and mildew.
However, delicate books should be handled with care even while you're dusting them.
Experts suggest carefully removing the book from the shelf, and using a soft paint brush to remove dust that has accumulated.
While handling valuable books and documents, many archivists and conservators recommend wearing white cotton gloves, to prevent the oils on your skin from transferring into the paper.
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