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Never keep books in a basement of garage.  The mildew on them is a fungus that doesn't stop growing.  In other words it is a living organism. 

To clean good books use a light touch with a damp cloth.  Make sure they are not left in a damp place to dry (or ever for that matter).

Thanks to Denise

Opening a newly acquired book in a manner to make it last.

The back of the book is the part that breaks, to prevent this -

  • Lay the book on the table, back down.

  • Open the book carefully, about halfway through, gently press with your hand along the fold between the pages.

  • Repeat this action with quarter divisions of book pages etc.

    Thank you Peter

I was recently asked if I knew how to get rid of the musty smell in books.  After some research I found a few answers which I thought may be of interest to other people.

  1. There is no guaranteed way to remove the musty smell from old books, but there are things you can try which may help. The musty smell is most often noted in books that have been mouldy or mildewed in the past. The first step is to create an enclosed chamber. This is most easily done by using two rubbish bins, one large with a lid and one smaller. The object to be "deodorized" should be placed in the smaller bin, which is then placed in the larger one.. Some type of odour-absorbing material should then be placed in the bottom of the larger can.

  2. Odor absorbing materials to try include baking soda, charcoal briquettes (without lighter fluid), or kitty litter. The lid should then be placed on the larger bin, and the chamber should be left for some time. You will need to monitor periodically to see how long the materials need to be left inside.

  3. Another option is paper containing Zeolite molecular traps known as microchamber=AE products which have proven very effective at removing odours. We suggest placing a sheet of the fine, 100% cotton interleaving tissue between the front board and the endpaper, every 50 pages throughout the volume and again between the back board and the end paper. Close the book and set it aside until the odour is reduced.

  4. Fresh air and sunshine may help, fan books by standing on edge so all the pages are exposed. It is not a good idea to spray with Lysol or other chemical deodoriser and this hastens deterioration.

  5. You can also try wrapping them in used dryer sheets, placing them in a plastic bag for about a week.

  6. Or spray on your favourite fragrance and/or shake baby talcum powder generously all over the book and place inside a plastic bag, leave for a while. I would be very careful that this does not damage the book though.

  7. Seal them in a bag with kitty litter or baking soda for a week.

Do not push your books completely against the back of the shelf.  The paper needs "breathing room".  This will help to eliminate a musty smell.

Do not pull the book off the shelf by the top of the spine and it will cause the binding to weaken in this spot.  They should be grasped firmly in the middle of the spine.

Tips courtesy of "Siren" of the USA.

Setting up home for the first time, perhaps a room at University, bedsit or flat-sharing, here's a quick and cheap way to make some bookends for your shelves.

Find two unwanted 45 rpm or LP records (please make sure they are unwanted by everyone not just you!)Draw a line across the record, about one-third of the way up:  heat with a hair dryer along both sides of the line until flexible enough to bend.  Alternatively, pour boiling water along the line, but be careful. Bend to a 90 degree angle to form a corner and dip into cold water to cool.

diagram of where to bend the record and the profile after   

Whoops! there goes that glass of water all over your book - don't panic.

Put the book into a frost free freezer, this will draw out the moisture and unstick the pages.

If this leaves the pages wrinkled put a sheet of paper on top of each page and press with a warm iron.  This will also flatten wrinkled corners.

Picked up a bargain in the secondhand book shop but need to clean the leather binding.

Using saddle soap, or petroleum jelly apply sparingly and gently with your fingers or a piece of muslin, felt or chamois leather. Leave for several hours and then repeat.

Books can be dusted by using a shaving brush  soft paint brush or the dusting brush attachment of a vacuum cleaner.

If books have become contaminated with mould or mildew (caused by keeping in damp conditions), wipe off the bindings and pages gently with a clean, soft cloth.  If they are still damaged, wipe them with a cloth dampened with alcohol, then fan out the pages to dry.   Alternatively, sprinkle some cornflour (cornstarch) on the pages, leave for a few hours, then brush off gently.

To avoid those Library fines keep a note of return dates on the front of your fridge.

Pat Sutton has sent in the following warning:-

My local library is now 'self service'. Unless you remember to press 'receipt wanted' you go off without any note of a return by date.




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