Taking advantage of uncommon spaces for book storage is a necessity when houses and apartments are getting smaller and book collections tend to expand. Although many people say they don’t have enough closet space, the use of a closet as a mini-library is appealing to book lovers.
Storing books in the closet has benefits that can be important. A door helps to manage temperature, humidity, and insect invasions. If you want to use the space as a focal point in the room, install a door with windows so that the contents are visible.
A closet can be as large or small as your residence permits. The space should not feel like a dark hole, but there are some restrictions in the way the books are placed in the space and on the shelves. Here are some tips to make best use of a closet to store and display books in an appealing way.
Six Amazing Tips To Keep Your Books In Great Condition
If you are a booklover, chances are excellent that at some point you have determined that you can’t buy more books until you identify a storage place to keep the ones you already have. Some of the commonly selected areas such as attics, basements, and garages are not recommended if you want the books to last and be enjoyed through many readings. Here are some suggestions for placing books in a good environment.
The Importance of Climate Control
Books don‘t do well when they are too warm, or too dry. They can be stored in areas that have lower temperatures, but books do not do well in in a location that is overly moist, such as a bathroom. For best results, keep the temperature in the 68°F to 72°F range. They can be stored at lower temperatures. In fact, a lower temperature may be helpful to ward off the attacks of various types of insects that feed on paper and glue found in older books.
Humidity is the enemy of your book collection. Paper tends to absorb moisture and doesn’t release it in a consistent manner. The result is ripples in the pages and bowed boards. If the steps are not taken to dry out the pages correctly, they will stick together, rendering them unreadable. Even if the effort is made to dry the pages, it will still be apparent that the book has been in a wet or damp condition.
Humidity and dampness can degrade books directly, but can also be an indirect cause for failure of the book to be usable. Mold and fungi thrive in damp areas. You would not typically think of a closet being a highly humid space, but it is important to check the books you place on the shelves for any signs of dampness.
Even a small amount of dampness can degrade paper beyond recovery. Paper is an organic material for the most part and can be damaged because of mold, bacteria, pests, fungi and other elements. It may take a long time, but it is better to prevent disintegration than to try to repair it.
When you place books in a closet, remember to check the humidity frequently. A hygrometer is a tool which measures the amount of moisture in the air. Before placing books in any space, take the time to get several days of readings.
If your closet shows signs of overly highly humidity readings. Use some desiccant packets to help control the humidity. They can be placed on shelves near the books and will be effective in keeping the moisture levels under control. Although most people think of moisture as the problem with book storage, it is a fact that if the air is too dry, it can cause the paper to become brittle.
Another environmental issue which affects the condition of the books you store is sunlight. Books placed in a closet are highly unlikely to be affected by sunlight. Sunlight can cause a book to become faded, sunned, or have tan lines. Any of these effects can reduce the value of the book should you ever want to sell it. It is the UV radiation on the paper which causes it to turn yellow.
Even if you have the temperature and humidity in the book closet under control, you should be aware that a change of seasons can change all of the foundations. Spikes in temperatures in the book location can be harmful to the condition of the books. Book covers and pages react at different rates, which is the cause of moisture ripples in books which are damp.
Shelving materials can be wood, glass, metal or man-made products, as well as other materials. It is important to be sure that the shelves are sturdy enough to handle the weight of the books without bowing or cracking. Books can be quite heavy, so you should avoid overloading the shelves so that the books are not aligned correctly, either vertically or horizontally. When the books are misaligned, such as tilted, there is uneven pressure on the spines and covers. This can lead to curvature of the spine, bumped tips, and cocked bindings.
The shelf should be kept full enough that the books can support each other without being overly crowded. Support for the spines is fostered when the books are similar in size. Rather than cram the shelves full, use a bookend to space the books out somewhat. Rubbing against each other can lead to excessive wear. It can also cause damage to the spines if you try to pull the book out by placing pressure on the top of the spine.
Moving the Air
Good air circulation, even in the confined space of a closet is important to maintain good book condition. The movement of the air is effective for avoiding excess humidity, and forestalling the activities of many types of insect pests. If you are placing books in a closet, it is important to get air circulating in the space to improve the condition of books and the surroundings. Use a fan or a dehumidifier as one way to move the fresh air in and any stale air out.
Even in an enclosed space such as a closet, insects can enter flying insects seek a place to lay their eggs, and the larvae which come from the eggs use the warmth and moisture of books to provide a feast and continue the life cycle of the insect. If you keep the moisture regulated and the air in the space moving, you may be able to avoid an infestation of such insects as silverfish, termites, book lice and others. You can use home remedies such as citrus oils and other essential oils placed near your books (not on them) to deter many types of insects.
Reading While Eating
Avoid eating or handling your books wit\h dirty or greasy hands. The insects can be drawn to the food spills and to the smells of the food. Unfortunately, insects are not the only pests which are attracted to food spills and greasy marks on the books. Mice and rats will make a meal of your spilled crumbs, as well as leaving their tracks on pages that are not greasy.
The Value of Dust Jackets
Although the brightly colored paper covers that come with most new books published today are called dust jackets, they are less important to prevent dust on the books than they are to prevent wear to the binding, and prevent handling wear. If your books are intended to be a display or decor feature, a brightly colored and descriptive dust jacket is important. Some people find them an annoyance, and discard them, but for a book to retain its first edition value, it must include the dust jacket if one was issued.
Even if you don’t see the need for a dust jacket when handling a book in your collection, they are an attractive addition to a line of books in your closet library.
An unused closet often becomes cluttered with paraphernalia that is of little use or value in the home. Out-of-season clothing, board games with a piece missing, and old holiday ornaments are of no value for your decor, your activities or your interests. Have a house cleaning or home organizer come in and help to replace the unwanted closet contents with attractive shelving containing a group of books strikingly placed and a few decor items. You will be able to access them, and will enjoy changing out the titles periodically to keep the display fresh and interesting.