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Preserving Old Books – The Best Option Dual Roller Shades

Temperature and Humidity Control with Dual Roller Shades

My husband and I had a discussion on refurbishing our family room, to convert it into a library of sorts – I use the phrase because, though the kids were avid readers, we’ve never been book collectors. Going through their rooms recently had me thinking that it would be a good idea to compile all the books together to create a library of our family’s evolving thought processes! Not that they would care, they’ve left home and have their own families or families on their way, but we figure it would be a terrific experience to have all the books together on shelves, in chronological order, as a historical recollection of our family’s passage! I don’t mean to be prosaic, it’s an idea that found fertile soil, and John and I decided it was a worthwhile task. After all, we had spent enough money over the years for intellectual edification – we needed to protect our investment!



What we both decided on was to repaint the room, do away with the old door that led to the smallish deck facing east and have French doors installed. We decided to build bookshelves around the AV system starting from one side of the French doors and over the perpendicular wall, ending halfway across the wall opposite the French doors, with a deep cosy box seat continuing on to the end, where I could even stretch out for a nap if I wanted. We got just what we wanted from Ikea, customized to our requirements. It took John a week to install them, between his Golfing and Lawyering!





Refurbishing the Books

It really was a trip down memory lane, gathering the kids’ books and ours, lying all around the house in cupboards and shelves. We even had books from our youth, what we’d brought with us when we got married. Of course, all John’s law books were in his office; these were all the books that kept us entertained, mostly fictional. We’d somehow managed to pick out hard bound copies of all the classics, but I was aghast to see that some of them were stained, and many of the books had a musty smell, indicating rot was in progress. Consultation with a specialist downtown had me refurbishing the books before they went on the new shelves, which I told John had to be epoxy finished so that the chemicals (acids) from the polished wood wouldn’t damage the books in the coming years.



Now, many people just throw away old books as they attach no value to them, and they consider them done with. But I was astonished that our hardbound collection of Desmond Morris’s books were limited edition versions, and quite valuable. I’d read recently that J K Rowling’s first edition of a hardbound copy of “Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone” sold at Sotheby’s for over ten thousand pounds, and that too at a time when they weren’t very popular! So, books don’t have to be rare to be valuable, but keeping old books in good shape is surely a challenge I was willing to undertake. They are prone to deterioration due to moisture, light and dust, and creating the right environment for them in a home is not particularly easy, but not impossible either.


I found that the books must be stored spaced well enough on shelves so that they could be taken out in comfort, without abrading each other tightly, which could damage their jackets and spines. Books need to be kept upright with bookends, comfortably spaced for proper airflow. Books that are 18” or taller should be kept flat, not many on top of each other, so that the pages don’t warp and remove the books from the top before accessing one that is on the bottom.


I got many of the books rebound, and I cleaned many with a dry muslin cloth to take off the dust and damp, using a blow dryer on cool to aid my ministrations.




Light and Humidity

The ideal indoor temperature for a small library is 65 to 70F with humidity levels not fluctuating from 44 to 55%. At this point, John insisted on installing an ERV for well-ventilated indoor air. During winter, it was seldom that doors and windows were left open. So this made sense, not just for the books but for the general indoor air quality, seeing as we were growing older, with our systems slowing down.


In addition, as the room was bright and invited a lot of the summer sun during the first half of the day, John insisted on getting the dual roller solar shades he said that were excellent, as the law firm had recently installed them on their windows.



Dual-Roller-Shades-Bedroom -


The advantage of dual roller solar shades is that daylighting and privacy requirements are taken care of in one go. Since the shades are engineered to exist on individual headrail casing, the solar fabric can be deployed over the glass door during the day to diminish the intensity of the harsh afternoon sun, creating a balmy indoor environment that reduces or even nullifies the need for air conditioning in summer, while in winter, using light colored solar fabrics invite more solar brightness. The roller shade fabric can be opaque to cut out the light from spilling outwards in the night, creating a secluded indoor environment, with great privacy. We opted for the LightWeaves Dual Roller Solar Shades from graber, with the Monaco Synergy 1292 polyester light filtering fabric room facing fabric during the day, and  the Essential Classic White 60001 blackout to deploy against the glass during the night, a combination of vinyl and fiberglass that would also provide insulation in addition to the privacy we needed at night. We also decided on the curved fabric covered large cassette valance to provide continuity to the window décor, outside mounted, as we found they could be a tad to heavy to use as inside mounts for the French doors. The shades provide the optimal environment that’s ideal, not impacting the humidity levels that are so essential for preserving books.


And that was that! I find myself nestled in the huge sofa that we’d got, leafing through the kids’ books, knowing that the grandkids will someday be delighted to go through their parents’ books, taking delight in the age-old stories that have given us all endless hours of wonder!




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