What do you do to take care of the books in your library? Some of the most avid collectors refuse to read the books in their collection; so the books remain in mint condition. Others buy two copies of a book; they read one, and leave the other untouched. But, many readers must read their books, but they still want to protect and care for the volumes. Here are some tips to remember if you want your books to remain in good condition.
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- Avoid Writing
You may have been told to write in the margins of your books, or even to underline or highlight words, phrases, and paragraphs. But, if you plan to keep the book, add it to your library, or even sell it--don't write in the book. The ink permanently damages your book. Use a journal or notebook to take notes on pages/passages; or use pieces of paper or Post-It notes. If you are required to write in your book, use a pencil, and erase the markings.
- Avoid Food and Drink
Food and liquids are hazards to your books. The best practice is to avoid eating or drinking while you read. If you need to read while you eat, make sure your fingers are clean and dry as you hold the book or turn the pages. Also, keep the book well away from the food and drink. Check the table (or other surfaces) for moisture, crumbs, and stickiness before you put your book down.
- Take Care
When you handle your book, hold it with care. When you read the book, don't fold down the corners of the pages (use a bookmark instead). Don't fold the cover of the book back. Don't break the binding; and don't place your book with the book open, face-down. Use a book cover/dust cover to keep your books in the best condition.
- Shelve It
If you want to take care of your books, keep your books on a shelf when you're not reading them. But, also, take care that the books are shelved properly. Each book should be shelved in an upright, vertical position (don't let the books lay on their side, nor should you stack them). Each book should have plenty of head room (space above the book), so you won't bump the binding when you shelf the book. If you don't have enough room on your shelves, store books in boxes--in a vertical position.
- Avoid Heat and Moisture
When you install your bookshelves, make sure they are in a dry place--out of direct light, and away from the heat. If you shelve your books in a moist place (basement, bathroom, or other moist areas), mold and mildew can grow on your books. Sunlight can damage the bindings of your books. Too much heat can cause the books to dry out and the pages to crumble.
- Avoid Bugs, Pets, and Other Critters
Bugs and mice can eat books. Dogs can chew books; and cats can scratch the bindings of books. You can avoid many of these issues by keeping the books in a clean area (and using dust covers). If possible, it's always a good idea to keep the door of your library closed (to avoid accidental enticements for cats and dogs). Also, keeping food away from books also makes them less of a draw for mice and other critters (although mice sometimes chew books for nesting supplies). Avoid using spray or powders near your books.
- Keep Out-of-Kid's Reach
It's important to encourage kids to read, and it's important for children to see you reading. But, kids can also tear pages, chew on the book, and contribute to the overall destruction of some of your most prized volumes. Depending on the ages of the children in your life, you may teach them to handle books with care. If they are of ages (or temperaments) where that's not possible: keep the door of your library shut, shelve books out-of-easy-reach, and/or purchase enclosed shelving units that lock. Again, the idea is not to discourage reading--just to protect books.