How to preserve old books – 7 key actions


Preserve old books involves taking measures to protect them from physical damage, environmental factors, and degradation over time.

This article aims to show you how to preserve old books through 7 key actions.

You can learn in detail the techniques, materials and methods for the preservation of old books with detailed instructions and video tutorials in the online course Preservation of Books and Documents

First, just a few lines about:

What is a book ?

The book contains stories, memories, recollections. It is a symbol of knowledge and wisdom.

But, as a physical object, it has its own characteristics that will determine its longevity and conservation. And it is subject to external factors that can affect its conservation.

The best way to preserve old books is prevention.

Then, how to preserve old books

1 – Proper Storage

Temperature and Humidity Control

Store books in a cool, dry place. Ideal conditions are around 15-21°C and 40-50% relative humidity.

It is also important to avoid sudden changes in temperature or relative humidity.

Avoid Direct Sunlight

Exposure to sunlight can cause the book covers and pages to fade and become brittle. To preserve old books it important to avoid direct light.

damaged book by light action

Use Acid-Free Materials

The antique book preservation can request storage in acid-free boxes or wrap them in acid-free paper to prevent chemical reactions that cause deterioration.

2 – Handling Practices

Clean Hands

To preserve old books always handle books with clean, dry hands to avoid transferring oils and dirt.

Whenever possible, wear gloves, preferably cotton gloves.

Gloves for conservation and restoration

Support the Spine

When opening an old book, support the spine to avoid cracking or breaking it.

Avoid Marking

Do not write in old books or use paper clips and sticky notes that can damage the pages.

Metal clips in particular, which can oxidize, are a great enemy for the preservation of old books

3 – Cleaning and Maintenance

Dust Regularly

Gently dust books with a soft brush or cloth to remove dirt.

preserve old books - cleaning with a cloth

Inspect for Pests

Regularly check for signs of pests like bookworms or silverfish and take appropriate measures to eliminate them.

4 – Shelving and Arrangement

Vertical Storage

Store books upright on shelves to distribute weight evenly

Store books upright on shelves to distribute weight

and prevent warping.

warping books

5 – Environmental Protection:

Air Quality

To preserve old books maintain good air quality to prevent mold and mildew growth. Use air purifiers if necessary.

Protection from Water

Store books away from areas prone to flooding or leaks. Consider using waterproof containers for added protection if necessary for antique book preservation use waterproof containers.

6 – Digitization

Scan or Photograph

Create digital copies of old books to reduce the need for handling the physical copies and to ensure the content is preserved in case of physical loss.

This is particularly important for the antique book preservation and valuable and unique books .

7 – Repair and Restoration

Professional Conservation

For valuable or severely damaged books, consider professional conservation and restoration services to repair and stabilize them.

DIY Repairs

Minor repairs, such as reattaching loose pages, can be done with extreme care and appropriate techniques.

You can learn these techniques in the online course Preservation of Books and Documents

The online course with certificate Preservation of books and documents systematizes the ways of identifying the pathologies, knowing the precautions to be taken, the methods and procedures to be applied, the prevention techniques and the ways to minimize the damage, carrying out paper repairs.

International Certificate

Certificado de Formação. Entidade Certificada

Certification as training entity


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Fill out this field
Fill out this field
Please enter a valid email address.
You need to agree with the terms to proceed