How do I preserve my books?
The most effective and economical preservation measures are preventive: proper storage, storage environment, and handling.
Take proper care when handling books by:
- Having clean hands and a clean area to use the book
- Keeping food and drink away
- Removing the book from the shelf by gripping on both sides of the spine at the middle of the book (push in the neighboring book on both sides to get a good grip), instead of tugging at the top of the spine
- Not forcing a book to lie open to 180 degrees; instead, prop up the covers of an opened book to decrease the opening angle
- Not using paper clips, "dog ear" folding, or acidic inserts to bookmark pages
- Not using rubber bands, self-adhesive tape, any kind of "leather dressing," and/or glue on books
Good storage significantly prolongs the life and usability of books and includes:
- A cool (room temperature or below), relatively dry (about 35% relative humidity), clean, and stable environment (avoid attics, basements, and other locations with high risk of leaks and environmental extremes)
- Minimal exposure to all kinds of light; no exposure to direct or intense light
- Distance from radiators and vents
- Regular dusting and housekeeping
- Shelving books of similar size together, so that the face of the covers are maximally supported by the neighbors on each side
- Keeping upright shelved books straight and not leaning (storing books lying flat is also good)
If conservation treatment is needed, see How do I find a conservator?
Additional Ways to Contact Us
Send written correspondence to:
Library of Congress
101 Independence Ave. SE
Washington, D.C. 20540-4530
We cannot provide: conservation (including review, examination, treatment), digitization/reformatting, access to/use of Library of Congress equipment, project funding, appraisals, recommendations for products or vendors, materials testing or analysis, preservation courses or classes, and/or responses to vendors seeking to sell or promote commercial products.