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How to Store Books in a Storage Unit

How to Store Books in a Storage Unit

With an array of sizes available, a storage unit is a great option to keep your book collection safe when you are in-between moves or trying to make more room in your home. It’s easy to simply throw your books into a box and toss it into storage, but if you don’t want your books to be potentially damaged from things like mildew, warping or staining, here are a few precautions you can take to protect your paper and hardcover books. 

Clean

Packing your books away covered in residue dirt and dust can lead to soiling or staining.

  • Clean the cover using a soft chemical-free or magnetic cloth by holding the book tightly shut and wiping from the spine outwards towards the edges of the pages.
     
  • Take your cleaning a step further by turning your book upside down and vacuuming the book’s edges with a dusting brush attached to your vacuum. Make sure to remove the book’s dust jacket before vacuuming. 

Cleaning and dusting your books before putting them into storage will ensure they stay in good shape.

Air out

Books that have been shelved or stored for a long time can start to smell musty. Make sure your storage unit doesn’t end up smelling like an old bookstore by airing out any musty or damp feeling books in a dry room for at least 24hrs. Damp books are very likely to mildew if packed away still damp, even in a heated storage unit, so make sure to thoroughly air out your books before packing them away.

Protect

Dust jackets. You know those outer covers on books that you find ever so annoying? Those are dust jackets and they’re actually very useful in maintaining a book’s value! Dust jackets are a book’s first line of defense and protect against scratches, tears, scuffing, dirt and dust. It’s always recommended that you store your books with the jacket on. 

Wrap your books

Wrapping rare or limited edition books is an easy way to provide extra padding and protection. When wrapping your books, consider the following:

  • Do not use plastic bags. Plastic traps moisture, which can lead to mold and mildew that can damage the book terribly.
     
  • Do not use newspaper. The paper is acidic and the ink that can cause damage to the book. 
     
  • Remove any bookmarks or pressed objects from the pages in the book to prevent wrinkles, stains, and other forms of damage.

Instead, use acid-free archival paper to wrap your books. This material is durable, prevents yellowing, and can be safely used for long-term storage and preservation. 

Store

Cardboard moving boxes are great for short-term storage. Choose boxes designed to protect paper products, like acid-free archival quality boxes, for long-term storage. 

  • Pack your books into several small to medium boxes so they won’t be too heavy to move.
     
  • To avoid warping of the spines or cracking of the hinge, don’t pack your books with the binding or spine pointing up. Instead, lay the books flat inside the box and stack large to small. 
     
  • Pack your books tight enough inside the box so they don’t shift and damage in transit, but at the same time, don’t pack your books really tight together as this may lead to bending or warping.

Always keep your boxes off the ground so they are not vulnerable to flooding or moisture from the concrete. Once in storage, try to check on your book collection at least once a month. 

Putting into Self-Storage

When choosing a storage unit for your book collection, seek a heated or climate controlled storage unit. These units will provide a clean and dry space that can protect your books against extreme temperature fluctuations and humid conditions that can lead to yellowing, wilting and other damage to sensitive print materials.