Help For Home Book Restoration

Richard McNeal asked:

Maintaining the integrity of books considered archives, heirlooms or historic can be challenging given the variety of elements and situations that can damage them. Fire, mold, water and smoke can all damage historic and archived books easily if proper prevention methods are not followed. Though the digital age has converted much that was print into an online format, there is still great value in preserving the books on -which so much has been built.

Restoring antique books that have been damaged can be challenging, but not impossible. Depending on the severity, type of paper and binding, books can be restored using methods like freeze-drying and vacuum-drying. Both of these require the services of a professional who understands the processes and sensitivities of using each.

Below are describes various methods individuals can follow to attempt to restore a book that has been damaged. However, it is important to note that for archived books, it is highly recommended that an expert in book restoration and damaged document recovery be called in to ensure good results.

Water Damaged Books

When restoring a book damaged by water, experts recommend taking the following steps and precautions:

1. Leaving the book in its original condition when found. If the book was closed when damaged, leave it closed. If it was open, leave it that way

2. If the book had coated paper, place wax paper between the pages

3. To store or move the book(s) before it has been treated, pack them spine-down in boxes or crates with freezer paper separating individual books

4. Mud and dirt should only be removed when the book is dry

5. Do not use bleaches or detergents to clean

6. Dry out wet books slowly using a fan. DO NOT USE THE SUN

7. Use cornstarch and talcum powder to help absorb any extra moisture and prevent mold

8. To straighten folded or wrinkled pages, wait until the book is partially dry. Then, gently press and hold the book together over and over as it continues to dry. When the books is close to being completely dry, place it in between two dry boards with a vice or clamp for at least 24 hours.

If the delicacy and detail of managing the drying and restoration of a historical or archived book seems daunting, find a service that can professionally restore books instead.

Antique Book Restoration

Materials and chemicals used to publish pages corrupt the integrity of old books over long periods of time. These books and particular damage require specific restoration care in order to ensure they prevail as time passes. The following steps and precautions should be taken for restoring antique books.

1. Clean your work area using a mild general purpose cleaner and let the area dry completely

2. Create the workspace in an area away from direct sunlight to avoid additional damage. Rather use a low, natural lighted area.

3. Oil and residue from your hands can stain and further damage antique books. Therefore wear white cotton gloves to handle the book or wash and dry your hands thoroughly before handling and every so often during the restoration process.

4. Clean the book gently by brushing away dust with a soft brush or gas duster.

5. If the book is fragile use very loose rubber bands to fasten together the cover and pages. Do not use staples, paper clips, tapes, or adhesives.

6. Clean pages using pencil erasers or very fine grit sandpaper

7. Only use a single-edged razor to remove food, gum, and waxed crayons.

8. Place the book into a sealable storage bag after it has been cleaned

Antique books should be cherished and stored with care. If you have antique books in your possession, look them over and take steps to preserve any that may be falling apart due to age, light or worse – mold. There are ways to preserve them, either by your own means or by bringing in a professional book restoration specialist to take on the task.

~Richard McNeal, 2009

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