10. Comic books, because of the
poor quality paper they are printed on,
become very brittle with age. They can be
stored in pre-made polyester sleeves, flat,
in a box or drawer, away from the light.
They are very susceptible to fading.
11. Watch that the bottom shelves of
a bookcase are not damp. If necessary,
you may need to dehumidify the room.
Store books away from outside walls
where moisture tends to condense out due
to changes in temperature and humidity.
12. Care should be taken not to allow
direct sunlight to fall on the books. The
same rules apply here as for flat paper artifacts.
See Figure 3 for good locations
for bookshelves. If you can't get away
from direct light, draw the curtains, or put
UV filters on the windows, or both.
13. If your shelves have glass doors,
which help protect against dust and debris,
make sure that there are air holes
drilled in the back of the shelves to allow
air to circulate.
14. When you remove a book from
the shelf, don't grip the book by the headcap
- instead, push the books on either
side slightly towards the back of the shelf,
then grip the spine on both sides with
your thumb and fingers, pulling straight
out (Fig. 6 ).
Fig. 6. Push books on either side gently to the back of the shelf while holding the spine of the book you wish
to remove. Photo courtesy of the Texas Memorial Museum.
Fig. 7. Fan out the pages of a damp book to aid in drying. Photo courtesy of the Texas Memorial Museum.
15. In the case of major or minor
floods, or if your book gets wet: a) If the
book is damp but not soggy, stand it on
end with the pages fanned out (Fig. 7),
preferably out in the sunlight (just this
once!), and let it slowly air dry. The sunlight
should kill any mold that tries to
grow. If you can't put it outside, you can
set it on a table and use an electric fan
directed at the pages to gently air dry
them. After the book is completely dry,
close it and put it under heavy weights for
a few days. b) If the book is really wet
and soggy, wrap it in clean dry paper (not
newspaper- the ink comes off very
easily!) and put it in your freezer immediately.
Once it is frozen, call a conservator
for further instructions. This freezing
prevents mold from growing, and
keeps the book in a state of suspension
until the conservator can see it.
These guidelines should help preserve
your historic paper and book collections,
and keep them in good condition. Remember,
your possessions may be someone
else's antiques one day, so it's not too
late to apply these pointers to all your
books and papers. There are a lot of things
to remember, but as with any regimen,
practice breeds familiarity. A few minutes
now may save many hours of conservation
work later, and may save the artifact's
See Ref. #3, #4, Suppliers
2 See Ref. #3, Books
3 See Ref. #1, Books
4 See Ref. #1, Suppliers
Terry Rempel is the Assistant Conservator,
Paper, at the Materials Conservation
Lab for the Texas Memorial Museum
at U.T. Austin. Prior to her position at the
Materials Lab, she worked as a private
conservator in Ottawa, Canada. Ms.
Rempel has written text for Conservation
Notes, which is published by the Texas
Memorial Museum. She is presently
working on a manuscript entitled Weave
Structure Analysis for Conservators and
Many thanks to Don Etherington, Chief
Conservation Officer at the HRHRC, for
his advice on the preservation of books,
which was used extensively in this article.
Texas Historical Foundation. Heritage, Volume 02, Number 03, Summer 1985. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth45444/. Accessed March 3, 2015.