A reader’s house is often filled with books, sitting on a table, a bedside table, or perhaps a rocking chair in a child’s room.
They often reveal favorite reading spots: a sofa, a window seat, or a porch.
But whether it’s a classic novel, a new autobiography, or a timeless children’s story, all books deserve attention and care. This includes a reader’s personal collection.
“It’s important to keep the books dusted. If you bring them a vacuum cleaner once a month, it keeps the dust away,” said Kathy McClure, director of the Eva K. Bowlby Public Library in Waynesburg, who explained that dust and dust mites can deteriorate the pages.
“We clean the books at the library when they come back to us,” McClure said. “We use a mixture of rubbing alcohol and water in a spray bottle with a cloth.”
Christy Fusco, director of the Uniontown Public Library, recommended a wax-free polish, such as Endust, when dusting shelves and books or a dry cloth, such as Swiffer, to prevent fading of pages.
When displaying books on a shelf, keep them out of direct sunlight and in an upright position with their backs facing out. Bookends can also provide support.
McClure saw people placing books on a shelf with their backs facing the ceiling and the pages facing down.
“When you do that, the weight of all the pages separates the binding,” McClure said.
Fusco said valuable books, like a first edition, should be stored behind glass.
But a high-value book that could be damaged or lose pages — including sentimental value, like a family Bible — should be placed in an acid-free protective box, Fusco said.
“It will protect the book and keep it dust-free,” explained Fusco, who said the boxes can be found on the internet or customers can ask a librarian if they are unsure what to buy.
Be careful when storing books.
“Very hot attics are not good for books. They make the pages brittle,’ McClure said. “Keep books in a cool, dry place and they’ll last a long time.”
Fusco said basements, which can be damp, aren’t good for books either, commenting, “Under your bed is best because you want to keep them at a consistent temperature and humidity.”
Be careful when handling books.
Do not pull them from the shelf by the upper back.
Fusco said, “Pull from the middle of the spine – push the other books away. It’s more difficult with paperbacks. You have to be much more careful.
When opening a book, Fusco advised against pressing – especially a paperback – as this would weaken the book and cause the pages to fall off.
Never eat with a book, Fusco said.
“We used to say don’t feed your book,” Fusco remarked. “If you get orange juice on the pages, there’s sugar in it. You create an environment conducive to mold and insects.”
Be careful where you read.
“You don’t want the books to get wet,” McClure said. “A lot of people read in the bathtub or take a book to the porch and leave it there, and it rains on it.”
Fusco noted, “If you read in a hot bath, the steam gets into your book and it swells. It will become bigger than when you bought it. If you read in the bathtub every night, you will change the quality of the book.’
Do not drag the ear pages to mark a stain.
“A lot of people like to unroll the pages, but they’re not meant to be folded,” McClure said. “When you do this, the pages weaken and tear. Use a bookmark.”
Sticky notes made for temporary attachments can be used, but McClure said they can damage a book if it’s been there for a long time.
So use common sense when handling and storing books.
Filled with knowledge, ideas and adventures, books are an important part of life. With care, they will last a long time.