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The E-Sylum:  Volume 3, Number 27, July 2, 2000, Article 10

BOOK PRESERVATION 

   NBS Board member Joel Orosz writes: "back in the early 80s, 
   when I was earning a Master's Degree in Museum Studies, we 
   were taught that the ideal  relative humidity (RH) at which to 
   store books was 50%, at a temperature of 65-68 degrees F. 
   Maybe the standards have changed since, but I would have 
   grave concerns about storing books at an RH higher than 55% 
   -- anything above that would almost certainly create conditions 
   conducive to the growth of mold and mildew on the book." 

   Darryl Atchison writes: "My question relates to reading old 
   books and catalogues.  For example, I recently received a 
   publication published in the mid 1870s, which I would swear 
   has never been opened since the binding is so stiff.  Obviously, 
   I purchased this text TO READ.  I don't just want to relegate it 
   to some cool, dark and dry bookshelf.  This would be akin to 
   storing coins in a bank vault and never being allowed to see 
   them.  This is not what I got interested in numismatics for. 

   I would look readers comments and suggestions on care and 
   handling of old (and new) publications, specifically those - 
   such as this instance - which are difficult to read due to the 
   condition of the binding and or pages. Thanks for your help." 

   Mike Jones writes: "I guess this subject is a headache for most 
   book collectors. As for myself, I use simple common sense. 

   ONE:  each book/catalog should be protected by placing it in a 
   clear archival sleeve with sensitive closure....this would at least 
   eliminate dust and the rubbings from each other especially taking 
   it out and placing back in the bookshelf ... glass-fitted doors are 
   a must for bookcases 

   TWO:  never, ever pull books from shelves by grabbing the 
   head of spine ... sooner or later you will have nice books with 
   tender spines. 

   THREE:  never, ever open books flat on a table to read ... 
   either hold in your palms and open at a V angle or place 
   supports at each cover so that they do not open flat. 

   FOUR: I just hate it when I see some good books displayed 
   slanted on bookshelves .... they're gonna buckle sooner rather 
   than later. 

   FIVE:  There have been many talks over the years about 
   maintaining proper temperature and humidity for coins and 
   books ... this is quite unrealistic for most of us ... common 
   sense for each region must be used. 

   SIX:  simple repairs are a must! ... tears must be closed before 
   they get to be ugly ... if plates had tissue guards originally and are 
   not there, it's best to substitute with some imagination, otherwise 
   the plates and the facing text pages will turn on you ... sometimes 
   it is best to lightly trim edges of brittle untrimmed pages so that 
   they don't get deeper in trouble, though some purists will disagree 
   ...if the original staples holding them booklets together are about 
   to rust or rusted, best take them out and replace them or just lay 
   loose within, as once the rust starts in, nothing can be done to 
   take the spots off. 

   SEVEN: best never to buy books with problems to begin with, 
   as they will cost you in a long run ... scotch-taped pages with 
   browning ... more than minor foxing ... rebound using modern 
   covers ... waterstaining ... etc.  I am sure each collector has his 
   tolerance level and you know what that is for yourself..." 

  Wayne Homren, Editor

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