Now that you finally have your own home library, there is a problem that a lot of other collectors you will eventually have to face: maintenance. With books, especially if you have brittle old volumes, you need to pay attention not only to temperature but also the moisture levels, insects, sunlight, and proper handling.
Here are tips to keep your dream library in good condition for years to come.
Do not bring food and drinks to the library. Even if you think you’re careful when handling liquid and food, you should not take chances, even with a cup of tea. If you need to have a snack while reding, do it somewhere else at home away from the shelves.
Maintain 35% relative humidity. A cool room temperature is the best for a library, which is why you need to invest in ventilation and cooling as well. Avoid extremes, however, as a cold room can also damage your collection. Install a thermometer to monitor temperature and humidity in the library.
Store books lying flat or straight upright. Do not store your books by leaning them diagonally next to each other. This can damage the spine and cover over time. To maintain balance on the shelves, you should separate books of the same size and thickness so that they are all supported equally by their weights.
Keep the library clean. Regular maintenance is a must to keep your collection in good condition, but for a library you need to go the extra mile by including inspection and maintenance routine of other facilities such as ventilation, cooling, plumbing, etc. You will need to schedule the cleaning by professionals at least once a year.
Install screens and curtains on windows. One way to maintain a stable temperature in the library is to block out excess sunlight coming from the windows. Add drapes or curtains to keep out sunlight. Moreover, you can also protect the library from insects by installing screens on the windows.
Avoid overcleaning. Dusting the books frequently can also be bad because the friction can wear the covers. Older books that look fragile will need to be handled more carefully than newer volumes. To reduce the need for cleaning, you can store some of the books in quality containers or muslin dust covers.
Keep children and pets away from the library. It is best to discourage the little ones to stay away from your collection especially if they do not know yet how to handle a book. Sometimes dropping a book can cause the spine to come apart.
Keep away from moisture and sunlight. Do not place the bookshelves in areas where the library is getting direct sunlight. Do not place it either near windows, air conditioners, heaters, or any source of moisture or heat. Prolonged and repeated exposure to the elements can cause crumbling and mold growths.