Conservation and Preservation
- Conservation of rare books and special collections material housed in the Fisher Library
- Overall preservation of materials for the University of Toronto central library systems, including in-house treatments, commercial binding, and disaster recovery operations.
The University of Toronto Disaster Plan (in pdf format) is available online
Frequently Asked Questions:
What is the best way to store my books?
Your books should be stored upright, snugly shelved with similar sized books on a metal bookshelf. If there are not enough books to fill the entire shelf, please use a bookend. If your bookshelf is wooden, you may want to consider painting it with a high quality latex paint. Untreated wood and wood that has been painted with oil based solvents can be harmful to your collection.
The bookshelf should be in a well ventilated area, away from direct sunlight. It is not a good idea to have the bookshelf against an outside wall, because it may create an ideal environment for mould.
If your books are too tall for the bookshelf, they should be stored flat with full support underneath. You may decide to lay one book on top of another, with the largest on the bottom and no more than two or three high.
What kind of oil should I use on my leather bindings?
We do not recommend the use of any oil or cleaner on leather books. Leather dressings can stain and accelerate the deterioration of the book.
What about climate?
Books should not be kept in the basement or in the attic of a house where there are usually high fluctuations in temperature and humidity. The ideal climate for books is 18°C and 50% humidity. That can be very hard to maintain, but you should strive for consistency. The quick extremes in temperature and humidity can be devastating for a book.
What should I do with mouldy books?
If your books smell musty or mouldy, you should fan them out as far as each book will gently allow, in a room with plenty of fresh circulating air. It's a good idea to have a window open and a fan on, but not pointing directly at the books. It may take several days or even weeks for the smell to dissipate.
If you see mould on a book, you should separate it from the other books. To avoid breathing in any mould particles and to prevent it from spreading to other books, try not to disturb any of the dust on the infected item. You may want to put it in a zip-lock bag in the freezer. This will not kill the mould, but it will render it dormant until you have contacted a professional conservator.