Caring for your personal library

The APRL binds many of its journals to protect them

Since coming to the APRL, I’ve learned that many philatelists have extensive personal libraries. Here are a few tips for storing your literature collection as safely as your stamp collection:

  • The ideal environment for books and documents is free of dust and pollutants, not exposed to sunlight or bright artificial light, and has moderate temperature and humidity.
  • Avoid storing your library in an attic or basement if possible. These spaces are often prone to excessive heat and moisture.
  • Avoid storing books in spaces exposed to direct sunlight or bright light.
  • Store unbound documents and newspapers flat in boxes.
  • Binding can help preserve journals or loose manuscripts, especially if they will be used frequently.
  • Store clippings and other small items unfolded in folders.
  • Avoid excessive handling of fragile books and documents.

For more detailed information about caring for specific types of materials, see the following resources from conservation experts:

Store newspapers flat if possible

Books: Caring for Books, from the American Institute for Conservation, provides detailed information on the best ways to store and use books. (The AIC also has resources for other types of materials.)

Documents and clipping files: The Northeast Document Conservation Center has a detailed guide to caring for private and family collections, including information on photos, letters, clippings, and other specific media, as well as a link to a supplier database.

Newspapers: Most newspapers printed during the late 19th century and after were printed on cheap paper which breaks down and becomes brittle over time. The Library of Congress has a guide to newspaper preservation.


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