Storing Books

Dear Donia,

Is it safe to store books in plastic wrap?

Clam Shell Box

Q. Dear Donia,

I am relatively new at my job at a small non-profit organization as the Head Librarian. There are two parts to the collection; one being a standard circulating collection and the other a collection of 19th Century books that need to be cataloged and processed for storage. Having worked as a public librarian for 15 years before taking this position, I'm well versed in handling the standard, circulating collection. However, the preservation of the 19th century books has me a bit at sea. Is storing books in delicate conditions in "archive safe" plastic wrap an acceptable way to store them? Thanks, Allison

A. Dear Allison,

Thank you for asking such a good question. I would normally try to avoid plastics for storage of books, partly because you never know what plasticizers may be off gassed to harm the books, but also because there can be a lot of static that will cause damage to fragile or flaking materials and may also provide an environment that is conducive to mold growth. 
Some sort of paper wrapper would be better. You can purchase adjustable book storage boxes that would allow the books to breathe, not create static, and are easy to use. Or for more protection, you can purchase clam shell boxes. If these options are too costly, a better substitute would be paper envelopes or simply wrapping the books in acid-free paper and tying with cotton twill tape.
You can always attach a photo of the book to the flag or label to help in quick identification.
I hope this helps.