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Wednesday, September 6, 2023

How to Protect your Books from Foxing

Foxing is a form of deterioration that causes brownish or reddish stains, mold-like spots, or other discolorations on paper, particularly in books and documents. It is primarily caused by the growth of fungi or the oxidation of metal-based impurities in the paper. 

To protect your book from foxing and to prevent further damage, follow these steps:

Proper Storage:

Keep your books in a room that is well-ventilated, and has stable temperature and humidity levels. Avoid extreme fluctuations in temperature and humidity, as they can encourage foxing. Make sure that your books are away from direct sunlight or any source of heat, as these can accelerate the deterioration of paper.

If you live in a humid environment, consider using dehumidifiers or air purifiers to maintain optimal humidity levels for book storage.

Use Acid-Free Materials:

Whenever possible, use acid-free book covers, dust jackets, and archival-quality book sleeves to protect your books from environmental factors.

Proper Shelving:

Store books on sturdy, clean, and dry shelves. Avoid wooden shelves that may release acidic fumes over time. Personally, I use metal shelves for my books. 

Use bookends to keep your books upright and prevent them from leaning, which can lead to uneven exposure to light and air.

Regular Cleaning and Proper Handling

Handle your books with clean, dry hands to prevent transferring oils, dirt, and moisture to the pages. Consider using gloves when handling rare or valuable books. Make sure that you regularly dust your books and bookshelves to remove dirt and dust particles that can attract fungi.

Important: If you have a book that is already showing signs of foxing, isolate it from your other books to prevent the spread of fungi.

Consult a Professional

If you have rare or valuable books that are already affected by foxing, consult a professional conservator or book restoration specialist. They can assess the damage and provide appropriate restoration or preservation advice.

Remember that prevention is the best way to protect your books from foxing and other forms of deterioration. By creating a suitable storage environment and handling your books with care, you can significantly extend their lifespan and keep them in excellent condition.

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