Although the care of these books can vary depending on the scarcity and condition there are several constants and enemies.
Have you ever had a pillow or piece of fabric in a favorite sunny room? And that pillow quickly became a muted shadow of itself? Sunlight is also the culprit that will fade a book cover or book jacket as well.
Humidity will quickly breed mold or mildew, especially in organic material such as papers. Once there is mildew, which is also known as foxing, it's very hard to get rid of from papers.
There is a reason why nothing of value should be stored in an attic or basement, the temperature fluctuations, especially combined with humidity can be a death sentence for almost all collectibles.
Yummy, that's how pests will view your paper products.
- Food and Drink
Yes we all love our cup of tea or coffee while reading, but unless the book can be easily be replaced -- keep the food away.
- Friends Who Borrow
They probably plan on returning that book, but it doesn't always happen.
- Wash your hands! Or even better have a pair of white cotton gloves handy to use when opening the book.
- Always provide support when opening a book, if the cover makes a cracking noise when opened, you've opened it too far. A special tapered pillow is used in libraries to keep the book from opening too far. Perhaps a soft squishable pillow can be used to hold the book open just far enough.
- As beautiful as it might look, don't display the book opened on a table, as it will eventually damage the binding.
- Consider making fine quality copies of the book so that you can enjoy the contents, while not causing further damage to the book. Note: there are special copiers that can photocopy the pages of books that cannot be fully opened. Ask your librarian where you might find the special machine.
- Mildew and mold if caught early, can possibly be brushed off with a clean soft brush, making sure to dry the book thoroughly with a fan. A dehumidifer in the area where the books are stored would help keep them dry.
- Pests -- use a trap in the general area of the books to tempt those pesky insects instead of the pages and glue of your book.
- Use acid-free covers and papers to cover the valuable books in the collection. An art gum eraser can carefully remove pencil marks and smudges.
- Don't lend valuable books, if you're known for your book collection, buy paperbacks of the more treasured editions and lend that out instead.
Although it's often said to only store books upright, that is not always possible. When you have large oversize books the only way to store them is flat. Books stored flat should not be stored in too high a stack as it could become too heavy and damage the bottom books, as well as unstable and wobbly.
Find a nice journal and keep it with your library. When friends borrow a book, have them write down the name of the book, date and their name in the journal. You'll have a record of who borrowed what, when it's time to round them back up. (Many years ago a friend with an extensive library kept records that way and it made us all that more aware when borrowing a book from her.)
Saving Stuff by Don Williams and Louse Jagar