I was re-organizing my bookshelves this weekend and got to thinking about the importance of caring for books and paper artifacts.
It's hard to imagine a Titanic collection in which paper is completely absent. For most of us, it's probably the most common item in our collection. Each book conatins information (writing, illustrations, photographs) that is part of the history we, as a Society, are trying to pass on to the future. In some cases the book itself may be a piece of history (in addition to nautical history, my own collection holds old medical texts, including the diary of a 19th century physician). Other paper artifacts like postcards, flyers, and deck plans are just as important. These, too, can hold information or be pieces of history by themselves (the THS has Fleet's drawing of the iceberg).
I think it would be excellent for us to have a discussion on the proper way to care for and preserve our paper items. Not only is this subject interesting, it is also highly relevant to many of this board's current and future members, as well as some of its guests. Here are some questions to get us started:
In what orientation should a book be stored on the shelf? What environmental conditions (temperature, humidity, light/darkness) are ideal for storing books? How dangerous is dust to a book's longevity? Is there a good way to dust a bookshelf without exposing the books to chemicals? What other agents are threatening to a book's longevity? How should a book be removed from the shelf? How should it be opened and read? Is it necessary to wear gloves when handling old books? If so, should they be cotton or latex? Does the care of new books differ from that of old books? If properly cared for, how long can a book be expected to last? How should other paper items, like postcards and flyers, be stored? How should they be handled when they are removed from storage? If a certain piece is to be displayed, how should it be framed and protected from harmful elements?
I'm really looking forward to learning about this subject, thanks all.