Book preservation and dehumidifiers

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Old 01-23-15, 06:26 AM
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Book preservation and dehumidifiers

I am about to transfer a quite large personal collection of books to an outdoors extension to my house with no heating. There are too many books I have to store inside the house. Now I am told that a major problem will be damp in the air and that the use of a dehumidifier might help to preserve the pages of the books stored out there against damp. On the other hand, if the air is too dry, after use of a dehumidifier for example this might also damage the books, since the pages would become brittle.

As alternatives to a dehumidifier, people do suggest the use of silicon gel, and of salt lamps. I have no idea how the lamps work but silicon is often used in parcels when books are posted.

What's the thoughts on this please?

Dave
 
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Old 01-23-15, 08:34 AM
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How to Store Books in an Outside Storage Shed | eHow

That site has a few basic ideas, the main idea is to use the plastic storage bins with lids.
 
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Old 01-23-15, 08:35 AM
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Where are you and what kind of humidity levels do you expect to see season to season?
 
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Old 01-23-15, 08:38 AM
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The poster is from the UK.
 
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Old 01-23-15, 08:54 AM
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Hi Dave,
two points, the humidity level will vary with temperature. I'm guessing, but it is probably the moisture content of the air that you will want to stabilize. That might mean 30% RH when that space is 70 and 50% RH when that space is 30. Sorry for the Fahrenheit reference I'm too old to make the change . Whether this is a factor or not I'm not sure, but something you might watch for.

The second is, the moisture in the air in that space should be limited if it is closed off from the living space and isolated from outside humidity. The moisture in our homes comes from humans and human activity or as Mitch asked, the outside humidity.

Library historians should be a good source of how-to as they store and maintain vast quantities of books.

Bud
 
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Old 01-24-15, 05:21 AM
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Hi guys. Yes, I am in the UK but I want to live in Europe somewhere else. I have bought an apartment with my fiancee outside the UK but the books I presently store in my UK house will not all go in the new apartment we bought over there. However, there is an outside extension to our new apartment outside of the UK which seems the best bet.

The apartment extension has no heating. There does not seem to be rising damp though.

This aside, what do I need to check for? And how? I am not a builder or anything specialistic, so please make it simple for me to understand and implement on both counts. Cheers.
 
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Old 01-25-15, 05:32 AM
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I see they make a thing about using plastic storage boxes for this. But I don't have any to hand. However, I do have quite a lot of the regular boxes, presumably made of paper of some sort. Is this acceptable as an alternative? Silicon gel tablets - are they easy to buy?
 
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Old 01-25-15, 05:51 AM
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Cardboard adsorbs moisture from air, plastic doesn't. You need a moisture barrier.
 
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Old 01-25-15, 09:12 AM
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Silicon gel absorbs moisture very well but it has limits. If your storeroom isn't sealed from the elements the silica crystals will quickly be overwhelmed and you've wasted your money. I've stored books in the past and cardboard boxes are useless. Plastic containers are the closest thing to being trust worthy unless that storage room is sealed airtight. Make sure the plastic containers are moisture-proof; dust-proof isn't good enough. ...... What about using climate-controlled commercial storage, either in the UK or your new place? Cardboard boxes would be fine there.
 
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Old 01-29-15, 02:52 AM
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But this attached is the advice from the Library of Congress in Washington on the use of plastic storage devices.
 
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Old 01-29-15, 04:06 AM
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Thanks, UK, that's good information.

Bud
 
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Old 01-29-15, 07:43 AM
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If you use plastic containers that are not moisture proof, in a normal location humidity will seep in and be trapped in the books and you will have mildew, which is fatally destructive and spreads from book to book. If your containers are actually moisture-proof (not just dust-proof) and the air is dry when you seal them up you are safer. So when you are buying your containers that's what you look for, whether plastic bags or plastic bins.

Attics are almost always safely dry, but get hot so the books age too rapidly - paper turns yellow and brittle, glue in bindings no longer holds, loosening tbe pages. Basements are very suspicious places for flooding, constant recipients of moisture from surrounding soil, and change from relatively warm to pretty cold and back again. That's why these are not recommended.

If your books are valuable, contact the British Library in London for advice on storing, or just rent space in a climate-controlled facility because the heat and humidity surrounding the books are kept within limits.

Of course tbis isn't going to be cheap, no matter what you do. And remember that even in ideal conditions, books age just as you do, except faster than you. Unless printed on archival-quality (acid-free) paper, they die within a few years - the acid in current affordable paper (made from wood pulp) is going to make the pages brittle and eventually crumbly. Books printed on more expensive acid-free paper last much better and are worth preserving. You will find it noted in the fine print on the other side of the title page if the paper is acid-free (archival quality), about 2/3 of the way toward the bottom of the page. A book printed 150 years ago had rag paper and is in better condition than one made 10 years ago, so it's very much worth preserving.

If your books are valuable enough to worry about and you are storing them for several years, do it properly. Paper items just are inherently fragile; this is the second reason why collectors of valuable stamps keep them in bank vaults, to have correct heat and humidity (the first reason of course being thieves).

It's probably time for you to bite the bullet and get rid of many books. Keep the few that are valuable or you feel really sentimental about, find one archival-quality container, fill it up, put it in your new apartment (because there will be a reasonable climate there) or ask a UK friend keep it housed for you.

I'm a book nut myself and several times in my life I've stored quantities of books (in my obliging mother's house) only to find when I reclaimed them that my interests had moved on enough that most would be discards pretty soon. Eventually I learned to sort them beforehand and save just the essentials, which were relatively few. And I buy relatively few nowadays, using libraries for my incessant reading. The first time you weed your books severely is hard - you'll want a bullet to bite on like a patient in our old wild west undergoing surgery without an anesthetic - but as necessary in life as finally learning to pack minimalistically for a trip.
 
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Old 02-01-15, 03:48 AM
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Thanks for the sage advice. I plan to move to another country outside the UK in the summer, and I want my books to go there with me. However, there are way too many of them to store inside an apartment I have bought in the other country. However, there is an extension to it that would easily be large enough. However, this extension is not heated and although there is no rising damp, I imagine that in winter it can attract damp (though this is a supposition - is there a way of my testing moisture in the air?). As a basement type of extension, it is dark, which I believe should help the books to preserve (sunlight not being a good idea). I can ask if there are storage companies in the other country, but it's one of those relatively poor countries in eastern Europe, so I would be surprised if they have this service there. In this case, if there are no local facilities, it's back to the apartment extension idea to store them in.

I should add that when I try to research this books storage issue online, all I get is contradictory or incomplete advice. What I need is advice I can rely on and that comes within the realm of being a practical proposition in the context I've described.

For example, consider the fact that I have been a book collector since 1972, so I have quite a large collection of books. So I know that I will have to buy a number of archival quality containers. Do you know approximately how much these will cost each, how many books each will handle, and where to see them online please?
 
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Old 02-02-15, 11:31 AM
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Surely there is a company in the UK that sells plastic containers? Not just a regular DIY place - look for a comipany that only sells all kinds of containers, including specialized ones, and look for moisture-proof containers among their offerings. I repeat again that your best advice will come from the British Library - they have centuries of experience with saving books, and they can tell you where to buy the containers you need. Why have you not called them? It makes no sense for me to google for US sources for you. For you to buy containers in the US and have them shipped to you in the UK would be silly. You wiill need to find a UK source and this is something you can do for yourself. I can't from here. Or you can enlist your partner's help, or family. I have given you my best advice. Now it's your turn to see what you can actually do about it.
 
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Old 02-06-15, 04:59 AM
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Thanks but I am still getting advice. To repeat the point, if you go on the internet there is a mass of conflicting advice on the best way to store books and I know a friend has had the same problem. Yours is only one suggestion I have received, and some suggestions simply fall apart when you do more digging. So I am indeed investigating buying some moisture proof plastic containers and I will email the BL. However, it also pays to do some independent research, because their advice may well be limited to archival type storage in an expensive facility. If you go on the Library of Congress website, the equivolent, all you get are the best conhditions to store them in, which I don't have any control over.
 
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