The Joy of Reading: Book Preservation Tips for Your Home Library

book preservation







Photo courtesy of Unsplash by Alona Kroft

Guest blog by Larry Mager

Book lovers will be the first to admit: reading a good book can be a powerful (perhaps even life-changing) experience. According to Alison Kerr Courtney of Biblioremedy, “Reading literature can increase a person’s happiness, decrease stress, and unlock the imagination.”


Courtney is a professional bibliotherapist. Bibliotherapy is the use of books recommendations for treating (or possibly even healing) specific mental, emotional and psychological disorders – or even just to help them escape from life for a while. In other words, just as a patient might go to a doctor for a prescription pill, a client might go to see a trained bibliotherapist for a specific condition, trauma or event that they are dealing with. However, instead of leaving their bibliotherapist’s office with a prescription for pills, the client would leave with a “prescription” for books to assist with their particular situation.


Bibliotherapy is nothing new. Books have been used for healing since the times of Ancient Greece, if not longer. Books were recommended to soldiers during both World War I and II to help deal with psychological and emotional trauma. In the United Kingdom, a bibliotherapy service called “Books on Prescription” has been used since 2003 as a form of alternative therapy for those in need.


It is clear that people around the world find books not only beneficial, but even therapeutic. Perhaps this is one of the reasons why, even in the digital age of eBooks and audiobooks, so many people still choose to build a collection of good, old fashioned paperbacks and hardcovers.


If you’ve been building your own home library, here are some of the best practices for protecting your favorite books:


Safe storage

Ideally, most of us like to put our books on display – for instance, on a bookcase, bookshelf, or even in our own home library room. Of course, as our book collections grow (or if we live in a home with limited storage space), this can become tricky. Sometimes, it is necessary to find alternative storage options for your growing book collection.


If your books won’t be stored on a bookcase or shelf, you’ll want to take a few extra precautions for maintaining the lifespan of your books. First, try storing your books in a plastic container with a lid rather than a cardboard box. This will better protect your books from humidity, flooding, and pests. When storing your books, always either stand the books up straight or lay them flat.


Protect Book Covers and Spines

You will also want to consider how to minimize wear and tear on the covers and spines of your books. To protect your book covers, you’ll want to use a book cover protector. You can purchase one or build your own using a clear, heavy duty plastic sheet protector.


To protect the spines of your beloved paperback books, you can start by placing the book spine-down on a flat surface, such as a table, then gently opening the front and back covers. Next, gently “fan out” the book by slowly opening each page, one at a time. Follow the natural crease of the spine, and never force the pages. This will help maintain the spine of your book, while still loosening the spine. If done properly, this method teaches your book’s spine to curve, rather than to crease or crack. Give it a try next time you get a new paperback novel!


Reading is something that brings joy to people around the world. By taking extra efforts to care for and protect your books now, you’ll be able to enjoy your favorite stories for years to come.

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