Tips for Storing Books, Storage

Tips for Storing Books: How to Preserve Books in Storage


I know that e-readers are gaining ground, but I still like books with real pages. And I’m guessing that many of you do, too. After all, who can stand to part with a favorite childhood book, or those college textbooks that will surely come in handy one day? While I do like my books, I don’t always have the space for them inside my home. Before sending my books off to self-storage, I give them pep talks! Uh, actually I just do what you’re about to read.


Tips for Storing Books, Storage

Climate Control is Key

It’s all about temperature! Well, packing is important too, but it may not matter how well you’ve packed your books if they’re stored under improper conditions. For storing books, it’s important to choose a storage unit with climate control.

Basements and attics aren’t proper alternatives for book storage. According to the Library of Congress, you should never store your books in a basement or attic. The reasons: attics can be too hot, and basements too damp. Plus, both attics and basements experience temperature fluctuations, and that speeds up deterioration of books. Humidity is also a problem because of the potential for mold growth.

Containers for Storing Books

Choose clean, strong boxes that can be securely closed. Since you don’t want to attract pests, avoid selecting boxes that have ever been used to store food. To make stacking easier, choose same-size and quality boxes.

Preparing Books for Storage

Think like you’re packing for long-term storage, even if you only plan to store your books temporarily. Gently remove any surface dust or dirt, and inspect books for signs of insect infestation. Look in the gutters between pages of books for insect eggs, which can resemble poppy seeds. Allow damp books to dry in a well-ventilated room before storing.

Unless you want to add inky flair to your books, do avoid using newsprint for packing. Instead, pick up some packing paper on a roll. It will be useful for filling in empty spaces inside boxes to protect books during lifting and transport, but also to keep books from sticking together.

To protect books against sticking, place paper inside the front cover and wrap around the book. This is especially important for leather-bound books, which are prone to sticking together. To protect against water damage, seal in archival plastic bags.


Placement of Books in Containers

Lay heavy books flat on the bottom of the container, and place lighter books flat on top. Alternate placing the spine on the right or left.

Always avoid packing books with the spine up or at an angle. You may pack lighter books with the spine down if necessary, but only if you don’t plan on stacking another box on top. Books stored with the spine down should be packed securely so that they don’t lean, but avoid creating excessive pressure.

Finally, don’t forget to label your boxes. You may need to locate that old French dictionary or copy of Green Eggs and Ham!

Have you used self-storage for books? How did you decide which books to store?

Tim Eyre