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Proper Care and Storage for Your Book Collections
September 15, 2015 | By Lea Jusi

Do you have hundreds or even thousands of books in your home?  Are they displayed nicely in proper shelves or are they casually strewn all over your house? Licensed interior designer April Alcantara offers tips on how to properly care for your beloved book collections.


Choosing the Right Bookshelves


Choose the right weight capacity. Know beforehand if you will be using them to store heavy hardbound books or lightweight small books so you can match the weight of your books with the weight capacity of the shelves. This weight capacity is affected by the way the ledge is mounted, its material, and the distance between one support to the next one. If the span in between supports is too long, the weight can cause it to sag which is very unsightly and could lead it to eventually break.


Choose the appropriate material and design. Consider what material it is made of and how much of the material is used (thickness).  Solid wood, thick plywood, MDF and metal are typically used and are very durable.


Bookshelves with bases that are fully supported (floor standing or built-in) and have fixed horizontal members are preferable for heavy books as they are usually able to take more weight. Built-in shelving can also be very durable but this is ideally installed by the contractor or shelving supplier during the interior fit-out. It essentially becomes part of the interior architecture so it becomes a permanent structure.


Adjustable shelves using the peg-system of mounting tend to be more appropriate for medium to light books. If too much weight is placed on them, the peg support could start to fail. However, they are very practical for quick adjustments when you rearrange books and you need to move the shelf up or down by a few inches or more.


Standing Shelves Vs. Wall-mounted Shelves


Use a standing bookshelf if the room is spacious enough to house it without making it look too bulky. For safety purposes, check its depth versus its height and think about whether it will stay up in case of an earthquake. Tall standing bookshelves bolted to the wall discretely or to the ceiling are recommended for safety, and they double as a design statement.  Are there young children at home? Some toddlers go through a phase where they love to climb and to them, a standing bookshelf can be very tempting. If it isn't bolted, there is a risk of your shelf toppling over a child.


Small wall-mounted shelves are useful in storing small amounts of books and decorations. It can be useful in highlighting special books that can even add to the ambience of the room.  The books don't even have to all be standing upright.  Lay some of the books on their sides and have a few leaning over the other books.


Keeping Your Books in the Right Place


If you have a home library, store your books there.  Otherwise, place your book collections in the study, den, bedrooms and living room. It all depends on where you plan to read them, or if it is just for decoration or storage. Keep in mind that books can gather dust and should not be in an asthmatic's bedroom or in any place of the house he frequents. Books also need to be protected from heat, sunlight and molds; in choosing a room where to store them, these should be considered.  Draw the curtains closed or shades down if they will get hit by sunlight. Choose walls that are not too close to windows so the books are away from moisture and rain.


Minimizing Book Clutter


Always put your books back in a designated place so you know where to find them. Only have enough books that you can store. Donate books that you will no longer be using to public libraries and public schools. They always have room for more books.


If you have books that you aren’t using anymore but can't bear to give away for sentimental reasons, keep them away from valuable shelf space.  One idea is to place them in plastic boxes and store them in the cabinet above your closet. This is already considered dead storage, meaning, you don't plan to use it for a long period of time so it is acceptable that it requires extra effort to get things out using a tall ladder. Use moisture-absorbing products to keep your books away from molds.


APRIL ALCANTARA is a registered interior designer and graduate of Philippine School of Interior Design. She has designed banks, corporate offices, houses and condominiums as a freelancer. She loves to travel and keep herself updated with design trends by attending international conferences and visiting museums in different countries.



Lea Jusi is a freelance writer and editor. She blogs on learninghippiemom.com about her adventures in homeschooling and parenting, her advocacies of animal welfare, mental health and environmentalism, and her love of writing and traveling. She has contributed feature articles to parenting publications in the Philippines and Singapore. She has written advertorials for commercial brands in the Philippines and in Myanmar. She has copy edited a marketing book being sold in Amazon.com.

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