Ew! My Books Smell of Mildew

Mia Iverson | Jun 04, 2010 @ 10:59 AM

As I stood on my tiptoes, checking the upper shelves in the attic for boxes, I stumbled across a heavy cardboard box full of old books I once enjoyed as a child. Inside there were a tattered paperback copy of A Wrinkle in Time, a hardback of Alex Dumas’ The Count of Monte Cristo, and the first Harry Potter book to name a few. And while I smiled at the memories each tale had to offer, I noticed the unknown torture my books had been suffering all those years in storage: Monte Cristo’s binding was stiff, the paperback smelled of mildew, and Harry Potter’s pages stuck grossly together. I asked myself, how did this happen?

After doing a bit of searching on the Internet, ranging from eHow and the Library of Congress website, I can offer these few do’s and don’ts of book storage:

Do's
  • If you can, store books in an air-conditioned or cool space. Experts suggest 60 to 65 degrees Fahrenheit is ideal. Search StorageFront by criteria and filter for air-conditioned storage units.
  • Stack books vertically. Storing them on their backs puts undue pressure on them. Books should only have to support their own weight.
  • Store books in acid-free packing materials such as corrugated cardboard, or new plastic containers.
Don'ts
  • Do not store books in damp or heat prone areas. Dampness fosters the growth of mold and heat damages book spines and causes pages to dry out and turn yellow.
  • Do not force a stiff book open. You may damage the spine. Ease it open instead.
  • Do not over-pack a box. Books need air to circulate around them.
  • Do not store books on the floor in case of flooding.
  • Do not store books against exterior walls. Moisture can seep in this way and cause mold build-up.

So, book lover, next time you consider storing away some old volumes to make room for the new, consider the above tips, so your beloved stories won’t meet the demise of their villainous anti-heroes.

Like to store magazines and paper clippings too? Check out CJ’s blog entry on “Packing Paper”.