Quick Tips for Book Storage

Whether you’re an eager reader with a library that’s outgrown your apartment, a collector in need of storing your valuable pieces, or maybe you’ve inherited some first editions you can’t part ways with, self storage is a great solution to storing book collections large and small in a safe and secure environment.

So, what are some quick ways to store books in a storage unit? We’ve broken it down into a few simple and helpful steps.

  1. Clean your books before storage

The first step in most storage situations is to clean and prepare whatever it is your storing. In this case, that means dusting your books and letting them air out if needed.

This should be a no-brainer, but avoid using any damp cleaning materials at all cost as this will damage the paper. You can use a brush to gentle remove dust or other debris that could cause damage to the binding or pages over time. This is also an ideal time to inspect for bugs or eggs—especially if you’ve found your books in a garage sale or rescued them from an attic space. These pests would otherwise turn your precious book collection into their personal buffet unless you remove them.

Should you come across any damp pages, covers, or whole books, it’s crucial you let it dry out. Water will cause mildew growth on your paper, resulting in discoloration at best and deterioration of pages at worst.

Lastly, you can finish this step by cleaning and applying any dust jackets available. At the most basic level, these jackets will help protect your book from any potential dust. However, for the collectors out there, the dust jacket adds more value to your personal library over time.

It’s also recommended to take inventory of your collection during this time, as you should be going over each book individually. Write the titles down on a piece of paper, and you can even take a picture of this list on your smartphone to keep a digital archive.

2. Place your books in the right container

Start this process by finding a book wrap for your more valuable or sensitive books. This can be a paper towel or even bubble wrap, which will help prevent damage due to jostling during transport, but avoid using plastic wraps or bags as this can trap in any moisture.

From here, you can place your books in either large plastic totes or even acid-free storage boxes. Acid-free containers do provide an extra layer of protection, helping prevent any yellowing or fading over time from acid in the paper. Take consideration of placing heavier and larger books at the bottom of the box, and lay them and the following layers flat on the cover. Never store books standing and stacked straight on their spines, which will reduce the integrity of the books over time.

If possible, make a list of which books you place in the box on the exterior by either writing directly on it or taping the list to the container’s exterior.

3. Select the right storage features

When it comes to protecting your books, you’re really going to need a storage unit with climate control. Being made of paper, books are highly susceptible to both extreme temperatures and high humidity levels. Changes in the temperature throughout the year can cause paper to become brittle and even dry up to the point it crumbles in your hands. Meanwhile, any amount of water can cause mold and mildew growth, which again cause discoloration to deterioration. 

A climate controlled storage unit is needed for your books. This feature will maintain a constant temperature and humidity level to best preserve these paper products.

If storing a costly collection, there are also a slew of security features to use, including electronic gate access, video surveillance, and onsite management.

4. Store your books correctly

The last step will be to place your boxes of books in the actually storage unit, and the first part of this step is to make sure lay down either a plastic sheet or wooden pallet on the ground. Even in a climate controlled unit, there is a risk of moisture on the floor. This easy step is a simple solution to avoiding ground moisture.

You can stack your boxes, but do be cautious not to overstack. A book can be heavy, a stack of books can be hazardously heavy. It is recommended to stack nothing higher than your chest to avoid injury.

When stacking your book collection, line the walls of your unit rather than fill a corner. This way you may have equal access to all of the boxes, allowing you to easily retrieve a book or series later on should you need it.

Enjoying a good book is one of life’s simple pleasures, and by taking these easy steps, you can make collecting and stories great books just as simple as reading one.