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Frequently Asked Questions

How should I store books?

  • Generally books and documents need a steady temperature, ideally between 16º - 18ºc, although this might be difficult to achieve in the home. A compromise of 18º-20ºc would be sufficient and between 45% - 55% relative humidity (RH). Avoid storing books or documents in areas where you find extreme temperature and humidity levels or areas which fluctuate between extremes in temperature and humidity. For example, attics or basements and under plumbing where water leakages are possible.
  • Store books out of direct sunlight and where air can circulate freely. Avoid putting them near windows and placing shelves against outside walls which can cause condensation and temperature changes.
  • Use archival boxes (acid free) made to fit and protect valuable and/or damaged books.
  • Store books on flat, smooth shelves, strong enough to support their weight. Ideally books should not come into contact with unsealed wood which can release organic acidic vapours. Line shelves with acid free board to avoid this problem. Stand books vertically close together and if possible by size. Use bookends to prevent books collapsing.

Please refer to our free guidance booklets
Basic preservation guidelines (PDF format) 234KB
Damaged books (PDF format) 340KB
Managing the library and archive environment (PDF format) 173KB
Specifying library and archive storage (PDF format) 117KB