February 8, 2023

The perspective of preservation, curso de milagros should be stored on metal shelving, as wood shelving can give off damaging pollutants. To make the wood shelving a “safe” as possible, seal all the wood with a moisture-borne polyurethane. Avoid oil-based paints and stains because of the oil and latex because of its inability to completely adhere. Shelves can be lined with glass, Plexiglas, or an inert metallic laminate material to prevent materials from coming into direct contact with the wood. If the bookcases are closed wooden cabinets or shelving which are not usually accessed, they should be aired out several times per year to minimize the buildup of damaging fumes.

I have some old leather books whose bindings are dried and cracked, should I put leather dressing on them? No. The use of leather dressings (neatsfoot oil, lanolin, etc.) is no longer recommended by conservators and preservationists. They tend to have undesirable effects such as discoloration, staining, and stickiness; wicking of oil into adjoining materials; and increased danger of mold growth on treated materials; among other problems. If flaking or cracked leather covers are a problem, they can be wrapped in paper or polyester jackets. This will keep the fragments and dirt from flaking off further and onto hands and other books. Leather dressing can be appropriate for some objects, but advice should be sought from a conservator before using it.

There are grease-like marks in my book! Absorbing the marks by interleaving the book with paper towels and closing the book. If that doesn’t work, you can sprinkle the contents of a dry cleaning pad on the marks. Using your finger tips, very gently and lightly rub the pad dust over the page in a circular manner (DO NOT RUB WITH FINGERS IF PAGES ARE BRITTLE!). Let it sit for awhile, then brush dust away (Always brush away from the gutter of the book to the edge). If the marks are from a pencil, erase them using a gum or plastic eraser. Stroke with the eraser in a forward motion towards the page edge. Brush away eraser dust and dirt very lightly with a soft brush.

A page in my favorite book is torn. Can I just tape it together? Yes and No… Scotch tape is not appropriate for a book you want to keep. You will need archival document repair tape. To repair, first determine the correct position for the two sides of the tear to overlap. All paper has a grain and you will be able to tell how the repair would “sit”. If the tear is long and changes direction, mend only one direction at a time. Use only as much tape as is necessary to cover the tear. This is a quick repair but often the tape does not adhere well. You may need to use a warm tacking iron covered by a light blotter paper to set the repair tape. Other book repairs can be found at A Simple Book Repair Manual.

How do I clean the page edges of my books? Try a Document Cleaning Pad available from Lineco Archival Products. It’s like a bag of eraser crumbs and works wonders.

How do I clean vellum binding? Use milk and cotton wool. Moisten the cotton wool in the milk and rub the vellum gently but firmly.

How do I remove a label? For a homemade remedy, use a mixture of flour and water. Just mix enough flour into the water to keep it from flowing when it is poured onto a surface. Then use a small paint brush to generously coat the paper that is being removed. Usually, within 15-20 mins, the water soluble glue will soften and the unwanted paper can be peeled off.(Practice on a cheap book your first attempt!).

Or, in a well-ventilated place, spray it with lighter fluid (Ronsonal), wait five seconds, gently rub with a cloth or cotton ball (or cotton flat, which I find works best). I’ve used this technique literally hundreds of times without a problem: the excess fluid evaporates in a few minutes and leaves no residue.

How do I remove a label from a dust jacket? Apply a hot iron for a moment to heat the label. This loosens the glue and often the label can be removed very cleanly. To supplement the iron, try using cigarette lighter fluid (naphta), which helps get rid of any sticky residue. Mineral spirits will also work. You can also try to remove a sticker with an X-acto knife (broad, rounded blade), getting gently under it with the blade until peeling up, then peel slooooowly off with fingers. To loosen a really stubborn sticker, oak it with a q-tip saturated with spirits, wait a minute, then remove. I clean up any residual stickiness with a paper towel wetted in mineral spirits.

My child wrote in crayon… any hope? Unlike ink, which penetrates the paper, crayon marks are at the surface.Try very fine steel wool (0000 grade). Gentle rubbing will usually remove, or minimize, the crayon marks without causing harm to the paper. (As with any cleaning method, practice on a book you don’t care about.)

Mold is growing on my book! R.L. Shep in his “Cleaning and Repairing Books… a Practical Home Manual” mentions using hydrogen peroxide, carefully applied to the area with an eyedropper; lemon juice applied the same, and placed in the sun for a “short time only”; denatured alcohol, applied with a soft rag or cotton swap; thymol in a solution of alcohol. As with all “blot up any excess”. If mildew is between the pages of the book, he suggest diatomaceous earth, sprinkled between the pages and brushed or vacuumed out several days later. If the book is spotted from a previous “infestation”, using lemon juice or a weak solution of peroxide, applied in small amounts with an eyedropper and wiped off quickly, followed by a good coat of “Renaissance Wax” (available from McCune, Inc., San Francisco) or some other good wax.

Even if you think it could be removed with a stiff brush, DO NOT remove it that way, as that will almost certainly damage the surrounding cloth. Instead, take a sharp-pointed, scalpel-type blade and/or a pair of tweezers, and a high-powered magnifying glass and work carefully at scraping/prising away the gunk without damaging the cloth itself. Some moderately light brushing towards the end may help to get rid of traces. If the stains can not be removed in this way, water is probably the next thing to try. Use wet tissue to dampen the whole surface of the board (otherwise damp stain marks are likely to appear). Then draw a blunt edge (like a bone folder) smoothly across the board. Don’t use anything sharp or you risk damaging the cloth. Don’t rub the damp board with tissue or cloth or anything, as this will probably remove the dye in the cloth. Depending on the type of dye used, you are likely to lose some of the color anyway, but do it carefully and the loss will be negligible and pretty much unnoticeable. Work very carefully round the title/gilt stamping or similar, drawing the bone folder away from such areas towards the edge of the board.

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