4 Ways to Keep Books Safe While in Storage

4 Ways to Safeguard Books Kept in Self-Storage Units

Whether someone is in the middle of a move or has outgrown capacity at a current location, there are many reasons for people to put books in storage. And, although books aren’t as fragile as breakables, they are vulnerable to humidity, insects, mold, and other hazards. If you have clients who are considering packing away books – entire collections or otherwise – here are four helpful guidelines for keeping books safe while in storage.

  1. Leave some wiggle-room in the box.

    It’s easy to want to maximize space by putting as many books as possible into a box. However, packing them too tightly can damage covers and spines. Books should be packed flat with the largest on the bottom. Avoid packing books standing on their ends as this can cause damage to spines.

  1. Don’t wrap books in or with newspaper

    . Newsprint may be a cheap and readily available packing material, but it’s acidic and can cause a chemical reaction that can damage books. If books must be wrapped to prevent them from rubbing against each other, use only acid-free and lignin-free paper.

  1. Consider a climate-controlled storage unit.

    Extreme fluctuations in temperatures can cause irreversible damage to books. For example, hot and dry conditions will remove moisture from the air and make leather and paper brittle, while damp conditions can cause bindings to swell and warp, as well as encourage mold growth. The Art Institute of Chicago recommends storing books at between 68 and 72 degrees Fahrenheit with 40 to 50 percent relative humidity.

  1. Don’t overlook insect and rodent prevention.

    Silverfish, cockroaches, booklice, termites, rats, and mice are vermin that eat pages, lay eggs, and leave behind stains on books. Controlling moisture and dust in the unit is helpful, but care should be taken to keep the unit free of debris that can attract pests. Storing books in plastic containers with tight lids can also be helpful. For books that may be infested, seal them in plastic bags and place in a freezer to kill pests.

The Library of Congress offers additional information about storing books.

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