Environmental factors, including temperature, humidity, and lighting (both artificial and natural) need to be kept in check when planning an exhibit to ensure the items being displayed are not damaged. General information on exhibits can be located under the “Display” heading of the Library of Congress’ Protecting Your Family Treasures Everyday. Additionally, the Library of Congress offers a Guide to Preservation Matting and Framing. Two resources for more detailed information are the ANSI/NISO Z39.79-2001 standard Environmental Conditions for Exhibiting Library and Archival Materials and Protecting Paper and Book Collections During Exhibition from the Northeast Document Conservation Center (NEDCC).
Further information about the Library of Congress’ exhibit policies and practices can be found in “Displays: The Role of Preservation in Exhibitions at the Library of Congress ” (pp. 73-96 of the IFLA 2006 international symposium proceedings, The 3-D’s of Preservation: Disaster, Displays, Digitization).
Plastic containers are an acceptable solution if you can guarantee that the book(s) and storage environment are (and will remain) dry. Be aware that if this cannot be guaranteed mold growth is a serious concern because plastic containers restrict air circulation.
Your choice of plastic is also important; be sure to use containers made of plastics that are not going to harm your materials. These include polyethylene (PE), Polypropylene (PP), Polystyrene (PS), or Polyester (Polyethylene terephthalate) (PET). The American Chemistry Council maintains a Plastic Packaging Resins chart that notes plastic type by the recycling code stamped on many plastic materials. PVC (#3) and Other (#7) should be avoided for collection storage.
The environmental conditions of the storage area are just as important as the container for the item. Avoid storing books in unstable environments such as attics and basements. The ideal storage environment, be it a storage facility or your workplace/home, is a climate controlled with a relative humidity of 50% or lower and a temperature of about 68 degrees.
Additionally, take a look at the Protecting Your Family Treasures Everyday mentioned above.
Archival Materials for all types of items:
- Several organizations maintain up-to-date lists and databases of conservation suppliers and service suppliers:
Locating a Conservator in your area:
- A free referral service is maintained by the American Institute for Conservation. You may select the type of conservation service you need, identify your geographical area, and receive a list of local conservators.
- For further information, see the publication Choosing and Working with a Conservator from the Northeast Document Conservation Center (NEDCC).
Locating an Appraiser in your area:
- You can find a professional appraiser through the Antiquarian Booksellers’ Association of America. Their website features a Collector’s Corner, advanced book searching capabilities, and a membership directory of appraisers indexed by subject and geographical area.
- To obtain an informal appraisal of your books, search the International League of Antiquarian Booksellers website. It also contains information about the rare book market, book fairs, and other related events. Auction catalogs are another indispensable resource for informal appraisals.
- A list of resources can be found at the Smithsonian Institute website. It includes a bibliography, professional contacts, and suggestions for selling valuable objects.
- It may also be helpful to check with universities, libraries and museums in your area for workshops, conferences, and other events connected with rare books.