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A Few Tips on Storing Books


As a book lover, it's absolutely heartbreaking to see warped books and torn pages on precious beacons of knowledge. Protecting what book-lovers have spent many a day reading and a lot of money collecting is a major priority in moving. Moving your precious cargo can cause damage and de-value your book collection. Here are a few tips to prepare your treasured cargo for a safe trip into a self-storage unit.

The Packing: When moving your items, don’t just throw your books into your car and “book-it” to your unit.

  1. First and foremost, it is wise to clean your collection. Packing away dusty books can transfer dust mites and grime to your other books. Hold the book firmly closed to avoid getting dust in-between the pages. Proceed to wipe the book from the spine outwards to prevent dirt settling in the spine. Make sure there are no bookmarks or random items between the pages.
  2. Books should never be stored in a moving vehicle without being secured. Properly secure your books in acid-free boxes or plastic bins. If you are storing books for an extended period of time, plastic is the best box option. It will be waterproof and stackable.
  3. Try to keep your boxes on the smaller side. Not only will they will be easier to carry, but larger boxes will allow more room for shifting and movement that may cause damage to the spine and book covers.
  4.  For hardcover books, stack the books horizontally in boxes. Fill any gaps with acid-free packing paper or by a book inserted upright. (Why acid free? Items that are acidic will damage pages in the long run.)
  5. Avoid placing the books in the box with a spine facing up or down, that can harm the spine of the books.
  6. Take a moment to label your boxes. It may sound a bit excessive, but in the long run it will help you keep track of the whereabouts of specific books.

Self-Storage: Find a location that accommodates your books' needs and sets yourself up for success!

  1. Find a location that provides units with proper temperature regulation. They are generally called Climate Controlled Units. Reasonable room temperature can protect page warping from heat damage. Also, avoid locations that have a humidity above 40%. Too much humidity can attract mold and lead to the discoloring (browning) of your books. Additionally, too little humidity can dry out your book– drying out the books binding can cause pages to no longer stay attached to the binding. Sooner or later you will have a handful of loose pages that are unsalvageable.
  2. Make sure to cover your books; leaving your books vulnerable outside of boxes is not recommended. Leaving them on a shelf in storage does not protect books from dust. Dust can cause serious damage!
  3. Do not over stack your book boxes! Not only is the weight hard on your books, but if you stack the boxes too high, that can be hard on your back.
  4. Airflow prevents humidity. Stacking your boxes on pallets can help with airflow. This is highly recommended if you are storing long term.
  5. In areas where you need more help regulating humidity, look into mold & mildew preventers. San Diego Self Storage recommends Dri-It packages. Dri- It allows water vapor to easily enter the desiccant bag, where it is transformed into a thick gel. The gel is then contained within the pouch, avoiding messy spills and leakage. Switch it out every few months as needed.
  6. Make routine check-ups on your unit. Look for possible signs of humidity and water damage around your book boxes.

General Up-Keep: To keep your books in pristine condition for day-to-day use, keep in mind how you can generally wear your books down.

  • Use bookmarks! Do not fold corners.
  • Protect the book spine. Don’t open the book wide or bend back the front cover.
  • Be very weary of sunlight! Sunlight may fade the covers and spine of your books. It will also cause the books to deteriorate over time.
  • Also, talk to your local librarians for additional tips and tid-bits. They are beacons of knowledge.
  • Please consult an Archivist if you are storing first editions or other sacred volumes. These tips are for a simple library.

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