Books have been stored on shelves in libraries and homes for centuries. Unfortunately, oftentimes, the material of the shelves can cause harm. There are steps you can take to ensure your library is stored in ideal conditions. Start with the room: good air circulation and a constant temperature of 70°F and 50% relative humidity are ideal. Avoid letting in natural light as much as possible and use LED lamps, not incandescent or compact fluorescent for illumination.
The material of the shelving should be carefully considered. Traditional materials such as wood, even with sealing, may never stop off-gassing of harmful substances. Certain sealants can also produce off-gassing, making the problem worse. Powder coated steel, if properly cured is a better choice for book shelving, but anodized aluminum is considered the first choice of many conservators and collectors. Chrome-plated steel shelving with shelves made of chrome-plated steel wire works for books housed in archival in boxes.
Keep books stored vertically and loosely supported by neighboring books. Packing books in tightly will cause stress on covers and bindings when the books are removed. Leaning books on one another at an angle also causes undue stress. Books that are too tall to be stored upright can be laid horizontally, in stacks of three or less with polyester felt placed in between to avoid friction. Keep an inch or more of shelving in front of the books. Check the bare area of the shelf regularly for dust and signs of pests. Important and delicate books will require special safeguarding such as archival covers or boxes. If you are not certain that your books are stored properly, contact Guardian for assistance. We offer sound scientific advice for ideal storage – whether in our secure storage facility or in your home, institution, or business.