Books are a library’s most important asset, so purchasing adequate insurance is a necessary part of your comprehensive risk management plan. In addition to insurance coverage, books must be well cared for, and cleaning books on the shelves should be a regular task for the library staff. Additionally, after spending time in storage, books should be thoroughly cleaned before coming into circulation.

Dust and Dirt

The first step is to gently clean any dust and dirt off the book, careful not to push any debris within the pages. When more than just a static dust cloth will suffice, use a vacuum with a small brush attachment, or lightly brush the page edges with a soft-bristled child’s toothbrush or delicate make-up brush.

Mold and Mildew

Mold and mildew are a danger to any books in storage. Mildew leaves powdery dust on the surface of the book and can be removed with a damp cloth. Use a brush to remove mildew from pages. Denatured alcohol or hydrogen peroxide can be swabbed on moldy spots to clean the affected areas. Once cleaned, remove any residual odors by sealing the book in a container with activated charcoal or baking soda for several hours.

Regularly cleaning books will help prevent damage and keep your library collection in excellent condition.