[RPG] How to preserve books, but keep them accessible


How can I preserve my older, or more delicate, RPG books? My collection includes some older books (from the 1970s-1980s), some of which are in less than stellar condition. They may be paperbacks, have loose bindings, etc.

I would like to preserve them for future enjoyment, but also keep them accessible. My contractor is salivating at the thought of building an expensive, climate-controlled room with each book individually held in a display case. However, that would make the books inaccessible and difficult to enjoy.1

I don't need a way to safeguard the entire collection, just a curated subset of the most valuable or at-risk items.

1 My partner insists there are other reasons not to construct this room. Those concerns are outside the scope of this question.

Best Answer

There is a Wikipedia article on the conservation of books that recommends storage methods and materials

  • storage in a cool, dry, clean, and stable location
  • clear polyester (Mylar) film sleeves (comic books are often stored this way to protect them)
  • protective archival-quality boxes, made of acid-free and lignin-free materials, which should not be overfilled
  • books may be interleaved with acid/lignin-free paper
  • average-size books should be shelved vertically, side-by-side so they can support each other.
  • shelves should stand away from exterior walls and should not be overpacked
  • powder-coated steel shelving, chrome-plated steel shelving or anodized aluminum shelving. Wood shelving is a more economical option but the wood must be sealed to prevent the emission of acids and volatiles. The most recommended coating is moisture-borne polyurethane.

As Trish points out in their excellent, complementary answer if you do not use archival boxes, you make sure that the books are not exposed to UV light that will bleach them out.

Especially if you want to regularly access them, vertical standing storage in polyester bags in a metal shelf against an interior wall in a dry, dark room where you keep the heating down or have AC seems a practical way to go about it.

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