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  • May 23, 2008, 06:19 PM
    Best way to store old books and newspapers
    I have a bunch of old newspapers, maps and books ranging from the early 1800's (a couple of late 1700's) up to the 1940's. They're in varying degrees of condition. I'm not interested in how much they're worth, but I do want to know the best way to keep them. I 've put them between plastic acid free sheets but should I also store them in a box? Is plastic OK? Thanks
  • May 24, 2008, 02:23 AM
    Just from my experience with a number of really old magazines, newspapers and books that I have, I think that it's best not to put them in something that is completely air-tight, also keep them out of the extremes of temperature, either hot or cold definitely not being exposed for great lengths of time in the sun.

    If the plastic that you are using between them is designed for that purpose, then I would presume that it's okay. I wouldn't be wrapping the items in an air-tight plastic of any kind. I have found that some little worms appeared when I tried that. I also don't think that boxes are bad, as long as they are not stuffed too full as to flatten things out too much and maybe cause things to become more brittle because of being flattened so much.

    I also think that it's best to be storing books in their upright position, loosely shelved, but still having some sideways support, so that the binding will last longer. I also don't grab old books by the top of the spine, or even the bottom of it, so that the spine and binding will not wear apart so much.

    There are also some links on the following searches that might be of use to you. Preserving Old Books, Magazines and Newspapers - Google Search and Antique Book Protection - Google Search

    I did find some information, that is quoted below, on the following link that you might find useful. Storing Newspapers, a Conservation Guide from the State Library of Victoria


    Storing newspapers
    Because newspapers are ephemeral, often bought, read and discarded the same day, their value is easily overlooked. (Yesterday's news, tomorrow's fish-and-chip wrapping.) As a throw-away item they are not produced from long-lasting materials. They can, however, be an important part of the historic record of events and social change.

    The nature of newsprint
    By the time they reach the public, newspapers have already begun to deteriorate. Mass-produced wood pulp is used to make the cheaper grade of paper known as newsprint, which is used to print newspapers, comic books, pamphlets, advertising leaflets and cheap fiction. It is popular because of its low cost and high absorbency, which is well suited to high-speed presses.
    The main ingredient in newsprint is ground wood pulp made by grinding wood into small particles, softening it by boiling, and forming it into sheets. This process results in very short fibres and high levels of lignin. In growing trees, lignin binds cellulose fibres together, but in paper it rapidly discolours, oxidises in light and causes acids which degrade.

    Chemical wood pulp contains less lignin and longer fibres that bind together better, but it is more expensive to produce. Most newsprint is made up of 60 to 80 percent ground wood with chemical wood pulp for strength.

    Preservation problems
    There are many hazards to newsprint survival: excessive light soon turns it brown and brittle; heat accelerates breakdown of cellulose; too much moisture encourages mould, while too little causes brittleness. Undisturbed stacks of paper may harbour insect or rodent pests. Air pollution from vehicle exhaust or industrial gases, poor handling and inappropriate storage systems can also compromise newsprint.

    Chemical instability from high lignin content and acidity, mechanical weakness and large format all add to the special problems of caring for newspapers.

    Handling and storage
    Suitable containers, good housekeeping and regular inspection of collections are important parts of a preservation policy.

    Because newspapers demand large areas for storage and their bulk and brittleness make them difficult to transport and handle, public collections are increasingly making use of microforms. Photocopies provide an accessible format, while original copies are usually housed at another location.

    Bound volumes should be stored horizontally with no more than three volumes per shelf. Loose issues can be stored in folders or a suitable flat container, large enough to avoid folding contents. Folds concentrate acidic reaction and cause mechanical stress. A single page or large cutting may be housed in an acid-free paper folder or transparent sleeve.

    Chemically stable films such as uncoated polyester (DuPont Mylar Type D or ICI Melinex 516) polypropylene or polyethylene provide safe enclosures and offer limited protection from contaminants. Buffered paper or card on one side of an item will enhance this safeguard and provide physical support.

    An experienced conservator should be consulted if repairs or other treatments are required.

    Keeping newspaper cuttings
    Scrapbooks have long been a popular form of assembling news cuttings, though subsequent re-organisation of contents can be difficult. Leaves and boards in cheap albums are usually of poor quality. Consult an art or specialty conservation supplier about suitable paper and methods of attachment. Write dates or other annotations with pencil; inks are more likely to fade or bleed.

    Plastic sleeves in folders or display books are a good alternative to scrapbooks. Adhesive is not required, so it is easy to rearrange items. Look for chemically stable materials (see above), not PVC, for both pockets and covers.

    Book reviews or related articles are often kept inserted within the pages or end leaves of books. These cuttings soon discolour, become brittle and can transfer dark acidic stains to adjacent pages. A photocopy on archival paper is more appropriate.
  • May 25, 2008, 04:50 PM
    Had sent an inquiry through e-mail to the library of congress some time ago in regards to some ancient books (one with a wooden cover) that I own where the pages had become brittle. The response that I got back had lots of suggestion, web-sites, addresses and phone #s. I will copy and paste the reply. Hope it helps.

    The conservator I consulted with says you should care for it the same way you would
    Other books. If this book is in a humid room, you might want to provide
    An archival box for the book, as the wood can pull out over time.
    Actually, providing an archival box for the other worn books is a good idea,
    Too, to help prevent further damage from handling. The brittleness of
    The pages in the school readers and their year of publication indicate
    That the paper is acidic; providing a good environment and protective
    Enclosures will help slow down the deterioration.

    In general, you should strive to provide a cool, dry (but not too dry),
    Dark place for your collection.

    For further details, please refer to the following information
    Protecting Your Family Treasures Everyday
    < Protecting Your Family Treasures Everyday (Preservation, Library of Congress) >
    Care, Handling and Storage of Books
    < Care, Handling and Storage of Books (Preservation, Library of Congress) >
    Caring for Your Books
    < Library - Caring for Your Treasures >
    Temperature, Relative Humidity, Light, and Air Quality: Basic
    Guidelines for Preservation
    Northeast Document Conservation Center &mdash; Temperature, Relative Humidity, Light, and Air Quality
    Here is a leaflet that discusses why some kinds of paper deteriorate:
    < The Deterioration and Preservation of Paper: Some Essential Facts (Preservation, Library of Congress) >

    Following is a list of suppliers if you would like to get an archival
    Enclosure for your book(s):

    Archival Products PO Box 1413 Des Moines IA 50305-1413 1-800-526-5640
    < Archival Products: Innovative Solutions That Stand the Test of Time >
    Archivart 40 Eisenhower Drive Paramus, NJ 07652 1-800-804-8428
    < Archivart >
    CMI (Custom Manufacturing Inc.), makers of MicroClimates archival
    Containers, 10034 East Lake Road Hammondsport, NY 14840 607-569-2738
    < MicroClimate™ Archival Acid Free Boxes: Welcome! >
    Gaylord PO Box 4901 Syracuse, NY 13221-4901 1-800-448-6160
    < Gaylord Brothers | Library Supplies, Library Furniture & Archival Solutions >
    Hollinger Corp. PO Box 8360 Fredericksburg, VA 22404-8360
    Light Impressions PO Box 22708 Rochester, NY 14692-2708 1-800-828-6216
    < Light Impressions >
    Metal Edge, Inc. 2721 E. 45th Ave. Los Angeles, CA 90058 1-800-862-2228
    < Archival Supplies - Metal Edge - Archival Storage Materials >
    University Products PO Box 101 Holyoke, MA 01041-0101 1-800-628-1912
    < archival storage for collectibles, trading cards, photos,textiles, scrapbooking, digital photography >

    Disclaimer: These lists are not an endorsement by the Library of
    Congress for the products or services offered by the above companies. The
    Library does not accept responsibility for failure of products, services,
    Or customer dissatisfaction.

    By the way, if you would like contact a conservator who can advise you
    On repairing the books, you may use the free conservator referral
    Service provided by the American Institute for Conservation of Historic &
    Artistic Works (AIC). Go to the following website for the AIC Guidelines
    For Selecting a Conservator: <
    AIC Guidelines for Selecting a Conservator >. At the end of the
    Guidelines is a "Click here" button for obtaining a list of conservators.
    This displays a form in which you can select the type of conservation
    Service you need, identify your geographical area, etc. When you click the
    "Submit Query" button, a list of conservators closest to you is
    Produced. If you decide to contact a conservator, we recommend that you read
    All the information in the Guidelines.

    You may also contact AIC directly at the national office:
    American Institute for Conservation
    1156 15th Street NW, Suite 320
    Washington, DC 20005-1714
    Telephone: (202) 452-9545
    Fax: (202) 452-9328

    You may also want to read the leaflet, "Choosing and Working with a
    Conservator" from the Northeast Document Conservation Center:
    Dures/07ChoosingAConservator.php >

    In addition to a thorough discussion of choosing a conservator, it has
    A list of resources followed by a list of Regional Conservation
    Centers. You could contact one of them, too, for recommendations.

    Please let me know if you have other questions.

    Anne Harrison
    Preservation Directorate
    Library of Congress
    101 Independence Ave. SE
    Washington, DC 20540-4500
  • May 26, 2008, 02:15 AM
    Thank you for providing an answer that is so informative and has such depth concerning the archiving and preservation of books! Such an answer as yours helps to make this site an encyclopedia of knowledge that can be useful to all!
  • Jan 17, 2009, 07:44 PM

    Materials for storage of everything from A-Z can be found at Bags Unlimited. My only affiliation is as a customer but their price are very good and most items have shipping costs built into price of products. They sell all sorts of "archival" grade bags, backer boards, coin and card supplies and much more. I have bought from them on many occasions, they are reasonable, reliable and quick on ship time. Check them out! Tom
  • Jan 18, 2009, 12:03 AM

    Thread is old and has had sufficient enough answers. Original poster hasn't returned.

    Thread is now CLOSED.

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