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Remembered Today:

Preserving Books


Captain Dave

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Hello all.

I have a few official historys from the 1920's. Four of them were gifted to me as a set with the original dustcovers intact. I took them to the local libary to ask about keeping them intact as I did not want the dust covers faded or torn. They kindly placed a protective cover on each book and I am happy with that. I have however considered laminating the dustcovers to ensure that age will not weary them, or my young children condem them to book heaven.

Are there any thoughts on laminating dustcovers off what are essentaily pretty old and hard to come by books? I am concerned that by doing so, I am actually destroying them!

Any thoughts appreciated.

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Hello Dave

I wouldn't laminate anything on those books; it sends rare book collectors apoplectic to hear such things (I am not one) for it destroys the originality of the book and the chemicals in the laminate could cause further damage in the long term. (Hence also why sellotape* should not be used to repair old books - and in case for any reason you wish to sell them they will be valueless.)

Books need to be protected from extremes of temperature, bright light and dampness and humidity. They also need to be protected from paper-eating mites etc., that seem to love old paper, so should be sealed (although not necessarily airtight). Being kept in polythene bag/pocket in a drawer should suffice to keep them safe, but you may wish to subject them to a photocopier if the information is of great value to you.

*Sellotape - sticky tape: I assume this is same in NZ, only I know that in one place Sellotape - US or Australia? - is more famous for being a brand of male sheath contraceptive (although this would also work as a book-protector). Enlightenment would be desirous.

Ricardo

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Yes.... you will be pleased to know that I have not utilised contraceptives for book repair.

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armourersergeant
*Sellotape - sticky tape: I assume this is same in NZ, only I know that in one place Sellotape - US or Australia? - is more famous for being a brand of male sheath contraceptive

I am sorry, dont care what country i am in there is no way i am using sellotape down there!!!!!!! :(

Arm.

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I'm not sure whether it is regarded as proper by the experts, but I keep my more delicate books in those polytheren bags that software comes/ used to come in. The ones with a seal on one edge.

Also, if you know any nice Americans, you could aske them to get your a packet of the polythene bags they have over there which have a zip on the top. But do say that you want them for books as these thing come in all sorts of sizes, right up to super pizza size! I have never seen them in Europe.

BTW I laminate postcards. Otherwise the pencil writing gets smudged.

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Is there not an effective way that I can leave them on the bookshelf and look at them occassionaly? I get the distinct impression that if I do not seal them away somewhere, they will crumble to dust in my hands next week!

Scary!

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I think the best plan would be to get a bookcase with glass doors on it and a lock - that will prevent the worst misdemeanours of sticky fingered children (and adults) and will also keep the worst of the dust off. If there is a bright light problem either from sunlight or from artificial light in a frequently used (and lit) room then you can either use tinted glass or get some uv protective film to go on the glass.

Cheers

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Captain Dave

I have exactly the same problem as you with a collection of trade directories. Some of these are 150 years old. I am not a book collector but bought them for looking up genealogy information. They were not in very good condition when I bought them. Libraries usually totally rebind these books.

They are used all the time. People who come to visit me gravitate towards them, ignoring me and my scintillating conversation. and saying things like ' Look who lived in our house in 1910' etc.

The front spines are detaching themselves and then after that the front and back boards are vulnerable. I have even considered having a false cover, looking like an original binding put around the outside.

Plastic bags, which have been described in this thread are another possibility.

I'm afraid I am just vacillating and it is a worry which I have been trying to ignore, until I saw your thread.

Kate

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I'm not sure whether it is regarded as proper by the experts, but I keep my more delicate books in those polytheren bags that software comes/ used to come in. The ones with a seal on one edge.  ...

You need to be careful about polyethylene bags in long-term contact with books. Polyethylene polymer itself is rather inert and therefore quite a good choice but the polymer is compounded with other materials like anti-oxidants, UV stabilisers, slip agents and anti-block agents to make a processable plastics material. Slip and anti-block agents are designed to migrate to the surface of the material in trace amounts, so there is a possibility that they could stain the book, or react with paper or ink. The details are different for other thermoplastics – polypropylene, PVC, polyester - that you might use with books but the same principles apply. The answer is to use only plastics or other materials specially designed for archival use. If you Google for ”library supplies” archival you will find quite a lot of information, including this helpful page.

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Hello

It all depends on your attitude to books. I very rarely annotate books or mark them in any way but they are tools which contain information and are there to be used. There are of course exceptions to this rule but they are for antiquarian collectors.

I have had a number of my WWI books rebound in a local printers and they cut off the original spine and glued it onto the new binding so that when the books are on my shelf they do not look glaringly new.

These books have now been given a new lease of life which should last another 75 years and give pleasure to others too.

I cannot see the point in hiding books away (exceptionally antiquarian books excepted of course - antiquarian book collectors please do not jump down my throat).

Regards

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Probably the best approach is to gently cover the volumes with a polyester cover. You can buy totally inert melinex or mylar film to do this. I've bought sheets or rolls in the past to do just this and it also reduces any risk when handling the volume (sweaty/sticky fingerprints etc.etc.)

Sunlight and damp are the biggest risk factors though a bone dry atmosphere can cause damage as well through dessication. I would suggest a good shelf or bookcase (glass fronted is not a bad idea for choice volumes) and a simple melinex/mylar wrap and keep them cosy but not dry and watch for any insect problems (you see this more on boks in climates like Australia).

Take a look at PCL. Its a trade web site so you can't buy direct but shows you a simple cover which should do the job and let you handle the volumes. You may need to crease the melinex/mylat cover in appropriate places.

Melinex pockets are also widely used for conservation (old photographs, documents etc.

If you are interested in looking at conservation products two sites you may wish to start with are

Papersafe

and

Conservation by Design

These will give you some ideas; there are many other outlets.

A good place to start may be your local records office. My nearest county records office (In the UK) is happy to provide sound conservation advice for those who ask.

Hope this gives you a few ideas, extends the life of the volumes and enables you to feel happy to read & use them.

Martin

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Clive and Martin, thank you for the helpful links. Sorry Clive, I did not see your reply until now.

I do know of the strange effects of some plastic coverings and have had the ink transfer problem in storing documents in those A4 file punched plastic pockets.

Because my directories were not in very good condition when I bought them (many of them had been working reference books in estate agents'/solicitors' offices) my main objective is to reinforce them for further continued use. I would have liked to preserve as much as possible of their original covers.

Thank you for the idea of contacting the local record office or library as well as the useful sites you have recommended.

Kate

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