For bibliophiles, as book lovers are called, there are two certainties: that the pile of unread never diminishes, and that life is too short to read everything. So one of the few comforts – besides, of course, finishing off a great read – is organizing the shelves.
Some seek the traditional and utilitarian: alphabetical order of the author’s last name, by gender. Others look for aesthetics and organize everything by spine color scale and size. There are those who use metalanguage to organize their collection, such as Chief Espinosa, a character by Brazilian writer Luiz Alfredo Garcia Roza, who keeps a bookcase made only of books at home (including the shelves). And there are also the chaotic ones, who store books with their spines facing the wall, leaving only their brains exposed.
The fact is that no one has to be the Italian Umberto Eco, who had a library at home with 30,000 volumes, to know that taking care of books takes work. They accumulate dust, turn yellow over time, suffer from sun and humidity.
With a view to helping bibliophiles, Flávia Urzua, a technician in the paper sector at the Museu Paulista conservation service, in São Paulo, compiled seven tips to preserve publications in good condition:
1. Upright is better
Always keep them upright with the support of librarians, except for very large and heavy books, and avoid that they are squashed so as not to damage the core and spine.
2. Just a cloth
To remove the day-to-day dust, give preference to a dry flannel. And every six months, use a soft-bristle brush or vacuum cleaner at minimum power to sweep the top of the book.
3. Wash your hands
No more handling them with dirty, greasy hands — don’t even eat meals while reading.
4. Take it easy
Never force the book to open fully so as not to damage the binding and do not support too much weight when handling it.
5. Attention to
bookmark Metal clips should not be used as bookmarks as they can oxidize and leave permanent rust marks. Also, avoid markers with a lot of volumes so as not to deform the book.
6. Out of the sun
Keep them out of sunlight as after a while the exposure can fade the covers and spines;
7. Fresh air
Keep them in a cool place and do not wrap them in plastic bags, just so they can “breathe”.