Healthy Books: The Basics

We have looked at some important aspects of keeping your books healthy earlier in this blog (see the Healthy Books link on the right side of this page – you’ll have to scroll down to find it). But be sure to always keep these basics in mind:

1. Keep food and drinks away from your books. For obvious reasons.
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*image retrieved from barnesandnoble.com

2. Always wash your hands before handling your books, and also avoid using lotions or hand sanitizers. In the past, it was common for rare book collections to require the use of gloves when patrons handled their books, but that practice is falling out of use now. With the reduced sensitivity that comes from having your fingers covered, brittle and fragile pages were suffering the effects. According to the American Institute for Conservation of Historic and Artistic Works (AIC), “[m]ost of the dirt on book covers and pages is accumulated grime from oily fingerprints. While invisible initially, finger grease becomes all too visible as it oxidizes and collects dirt.” (http://www.conservation-us.org/about-conservation/caring-for-your-treasures/books#.VOj9dEIh428 Handling & Use, para. 2)
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*image retrieved from http://www.instructables.com/id/Intro_1/step5/Finisheddirty-hands/

3. Support the covers of your books. Opening a book the full 180* (or even worse – more than 180*!) is very hard on the spine. This rule is especially important for old and fragile books. There are many different types, sizes and angles of supports, and they can be very easily constructed or purchased.
Screen Shot 2015-02-21 at 5.09.32 PM           Screen Shot 2015-02-21 at 5.14.58 PM
*image retrieved from bindingobsession.com                    * image retrieved from www.jiscdigitalmedia.ac.uk

Here are some useful links to professional advice on caring for your collection:

Library of Congress – Care, Handling and Storage of Books

AIC – Caring For Your Treasures: Books

National Library of Scotland – Caring for rare books

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