Do you have a massive book collection that you simply have to put into storage for a little while? A move to a smaller place, a temporary move for work, or any number of reasons can cause you to face the agonizing choice of parting with your book collection or storing it. Storing it for a while is usually the better option - but only if you do it right. Otherwise, you'll end up with a lot of damaged books and heartbreak. Use this guide.
Examine The Storage Unit Carefully
Paper products make great nests for rodents, and a family of mice can chew through your collection in no time. With that in mind, carefully examine the storage unit you're about to rent (from an outlet such as Belmont Self Storage).
- Pick a climate-controlled facility if at all possible. Paper is sensitive to temperature changes and will start to break down in extreme heat or cold. Humid conditions can spur mold growth.
- Look for cracks, holes, and broken seals around edges and doors. All of these are signs of previous infestations (or at least poor facility maintenance). They also serve as points-of-entry for homeless rodents.
- Carefully examine the unit for signs of mouse or rat droppings prior to renting.
- Make sure that there is a water-tight seal around the edges of the unit.
- Don't rent a unit that's surrounded by shrubs and other organic items. They invite insects and other creatures.
- Clean the unit before you store. You want to make sure there is very little dust or dirt in the unit, so that none of it gets transferred to your books. Start by sweeping walls, ceiling, and floor to dislodge and remove any loose dirt. Then wipe the unit down with a little soapy water just to be extra sure it's clean.
- Buy spider and ant spray and liberally apply it around the edges of your storage unit a few days before you move your books in. When you're done, reapply the spray at the doorway, as an extra precaution. You don't want to come back to your books and find a host of creepy-crawlies within the pages.
Clean And Pack Your Collection Properly
If you can afford it, use archival storage boxes for your books, especially if you have any collector's editions or rare books. Archival boxes are produced from acid-free materials, unlike most commercial storage boxes, which helps preserve your books for the long haul.
Failing that, buy small cardboard boxes that are designed specifically for books. Many of them are coated to retard the transfer of any acids in the materials. Plus, they're the right size. If you buy boxes that are too big, the weight of the books themselves can leave you with damaged covers and spines.
Plastic bins are not the best choice for storing books, because many of the chemicals used in their construction will actually damage fragile paper over time. In addition, they can easily trap humidity inside with your books, giving mold and mildew a fertile breeding ground.
When packing your books:
- Pack similar size books together. This helps reduce damage from heavy books pressing against lighter ones.
- Lay each book flat in the box, not on it's side, or you will damage the spine.
- Wipe dust off each book before you pack it, to keep dirt off the pages. A sweeper hose can be effective at gently removing dust from book edges and spines.
- Wrap each book in acid-free paper.
- Stuff open spaces with acid-free paper or packing material to keep books from sliding around and getting damaged.
- Seal the tops and bottoms of the boxes with tape to keep out insects.
- Lay down a pallet of wood or boards to use as a base for the boxes, and cover with a waterproof tarp to keep away any ground moisture that might leak into the unit.
While it might seem unnecessarily tedious, consider taking an inventory of your books, including publication dates, and label the boxes. Labeling the boxes will just help you find a book if you suddenly need it, but an inventory protects you against loss should something unfortunate (like a fire or flood) happen.
By taking these precautions, you can relax a little and store your collection with confidence - which is better than having to part with your beloved books due to a short-term situation.