As soon as you have a good number of books at home and over the years, it is not surprising that problems like degradation begin to appear in some of them, especially in the oldest ones. While degradation can be tricky to reverse, such as brittle pages from ink oxidation and poor quality paper, other problems can be prevented and even fixed with simple, healthy solutions.
Direct sunlight is one of the main enemies of your books.
- A window where the rays of the sun come all day in your library will accelerate the degradation of book covers. So you have to avoid direct sunlight. By the way, this does not mean that you need to put the books in your basement.
The second most significant enemy of books is humidity.
- In a cold and humid environment, unfortunately, the paper is likely to swell and spoil. Besides, a moist environment is a fertile ground for the appearance of fungi that can quickly destroy your books. For the solution, you must maintain a constant temperature and as free of moisture as you can.
If the humidity has taken over your books, the best you can do is trying to dry the pages thoroughly.
A hairdryer is an excellent tool for this operation.
But first, you need to press the volumes well with weight. In fungi and some yellowing, it can be treated with a cloth slightly moistened in bicarbonate or bleach.
What if you have an infestation of small insects?
This problem is more usual than it seems. The most common are earwigs, which are not too dangerous, and but in the worst case, woodworm. The woodworm is too harmful, and you have to eradicate it. Sometimes, cockroaches also cause problems.
There are several tips to get rid of these insects;
- The first one is preventive: if you buy second-hand books, check them well before adding them to a shelf. Check the cardboard guards and the pages for small holes. If you see any insects or something, there are several solutions.
- You can vacuum the pages with a hand vacuum cleaner. You have to be very, very careful at this step and make sure that you remove all larvae and adult insects. For this operation, I can recommend you use an insecticide. But it would be best if you did not use it directly. It is better to use a plastic bag to put the book in the bag for a while.
- One time I saw one of my friends was cleaning her books with a bit of bleach, page by page. So this one is also recommended.
Once a year, it is convenient to take the books off the shelves.
Finally, the last and the most critical step. Take your books off the shelves and clean them like vacuuming the dust and check that the books are in good condition. I can only suggest you follow these instructions. Otherwise, you may find yourself with an unpleasant surprise for not paying more attention to your library.