Even in the age of the digital library, printed books are still key assets for any academic library. As book collections age, librarians are faced with the persistent challenge of book conservation.
Printed books and journals are expensive for budget-strapped libraries to replace. Frequent replacement due to improper care also amounts to poor environmental stewardship given the vast quantities of paper and ink contained in a library.
So how do you maximize your budget and keep your academic library green? Implement book conservation best practices. When educating your staff and reviewing your book conservation efforts, here are the most important practices to keep in mind:
1. Proper Handling
The most cost-efficient way to preserve your library’s print collection is through proper day-to-day handling. Remember these important tips for book spine protection and general preservation:
- Only use books with clean hands and on a clean working surface.
- Keep food and drink away from all printed materials.
- When removing a book from the shelf, don’t tug at the top of the spine. Instead, grip the book on both sides in the middle of the spine.
- Don’t leave a book lying open at 180 degrees. Rather, decrease the opening angle by propping or holding up the cover as you read.
- Provide foam book rests throughout the library for students and other patrons to use to preserve book spine angles.
- Utilize a state-of-the-art book scanner that preserves book spines by allowing them to lay flat.
- Paper clips, “dog ear” folding or acidic inserts of any kind make for damaging bookmarks.
- Don’t use rubber bands, self-adhesive tape or any kind of glue when repairing books.
2. Proper Storage
Correct storage significantly prolongs the life and usability of your book collection. Keep these book conservation tips in mind when arranging for the storage of your printed materials:
- Keep books stored at room temperature or below.
- Books should be stored in a relatively dry climate (such as 35% relative humidity or below).
- Store books in a clean place. Dirt wears down covers and pages quicker.
- Avoid unstable environments like attic closets, leaky library basements or other locations with greater risk of water and environmental extremes.
- Don’t expose books to too much direct or intense light.
- Keep books stored well away from radiators and vents.
- Regular dusting and housekeeping ensures better book conservation.
- Shelve books of similar size together with the covers optimally supported by their neighbors on each side.
- Keep shelved books upright or store them lying flat (not leaning).
3. Proactively Address Damage
No matter how well your library practices book spine protection or book conservation, eventually you find books with condition problems, whether from age, use or environmental factors. Ensure you also understand these tips on how to handle or store damaged books:
- Protect a damaged or critical-condition book in a box or other safe enclosure.
- For leather-bound books, don’t use leather dressings as this is no longer considered a library management best practice.
- Consider conservation treatment by a book conservator through the American Institute for Conservation of Historic and Artistic Works (AIC)
3.5 Use The Right Equipment
This is the digital library age, so books aren’t just read: they’re copied, scanned and converted into digital editions. In any of these processes, make certain that you’re using the proper equipment that doesn’t undo all your book conservation efforts in a single round of copying. Here are a few bonus tips for picking the right equipment:
- Use a scanner that allows books to lie flat on each page of the scanning process.
- Discourage use of a copy machine that damages book spines and leaves blackened areas of text on each page due to page curvature (that’s an ink expense too!).
- Select a scanner that converts pages into searchable PDFs or Word documents
Appropriate book conservation doesn’t have to be difficult. By implementing these best practices, you optimize your book spine protection and preservation, which also saves you work in library management. Act to preserve your collection today and ensure students at your academic library have access to your print media collection for generations to come.
Help your students work between your print and digital library by requesting a free Scannx Book ScanCenter trial today. Click the button below to get started.