Preserving a Book

Nancy Martin sent me a question to post for her. I've given Steve Gateley a heads up so he can reply with his "archivist" hat on today.

Our son Just got married 🎉 and his wife has a hard back copy of Peter Pan published before 1985. He wants advice to preserve it for them to read to any children they might have. It does not have a paper cover. What would you suggest? I have removed any pre-1985 books from our own home since books printed before that time might have Lead in the ink or in the paper. But this book is precious to our new daughter-in-law so I don’t want to suggest she consider getting rid of it.

Any suggestions? 

Nancy Martin

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  • We asked Steve Gateley for his suggestions. He works with the SBC Archive. Nancy sent pictures of the book to Steve.
    More than glad to suggest some ways you can improve or neutralize the book's condition.

    1. I see the corners are bent and the ends of the spine are frayed. To protect and strengthen them, I would suggest using Cloth Reddi Corners (Demco brand new). Precut from the cloth tape material used in book repairs, they are an excellent way to protect the corners and spine of a book. Here's a link to the product: Demco® Cloth Reddi Corners . Other library supply vendors have their own version of this product, so shop around. If you do have some cloth book repair tape, and the cost of the precut corners is prohibitive .... you can cut out your own.

    2. Sunlight and ultraviolet rays can fade the cover of a book. I would keep it in a dark place or you can put it in a box or wrap it in butcher paper. I would stay away from newspaper, due to the inks and poor quality of the paper.

    3. I see the pages are browning and likely getting brittle. Try putting acid-free archival quality sheets of paper or tissue between each page. This will separate the pages from each other which will minimize the collective action of acid in the pages. Purchasing from an archival supplier is best to get a quality product, like this vender ...

    4. I don't see any loose pages, but should they start to loosen ... applying a bit of plastic adhesive to where the page is coming loose will prevent it from coming out completely. This is what I'm speaking of, To apply it, use a kid's water coloring brush (yes, in the toy department). Don't over apply the adhesive, a little bit will secure the page.

    5. To prevent mold or mildew, a dry humid free place is best. Also well ventilated and temperature controlled is important. Like you, extreme heat and cold are not good for books either.

    That's about all I can come up with. Should you do all or some of these things Peter Pan will surely be around for a long time!!
    Steve Gateley
    Archival Tissue | BUFFERED & UN-BUFFERED | Archival Methods
    Excellent for interleaving prints and drawings and protecting artifacts. Widely used to wrap gowns, historic uniforms and textile items. Available in…
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