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Degradations

Water, Dampness

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Causes:

A book staying in a cellar, an attic, a closed damp house.

Consequences:

Damp stains are recognizable by dark patches which look like geography maps. Every material of a book contains some water content. When drying a leather cover does not react like cardboard. Then the book is bent,and distorted. The paper loses its natural pasting and gets soft.
A damp book is also affected by the presence of insects or micro-organisms which aids in the books deterioration. illustration

Solutions:

A book must be kept in a place where hygrometry is between 50 and 65 % of relative humidity and where temperature is between 16 and 25 °C.

Insects

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Causes:

A damp book is more attractive for insects even though they can be found in healthy places. Insects like temperatures between 24 and 28°C and relative humidity between 80 and 90 %.
Furniture beetles, silverfish appreciate book materials, they feed on starch (contained in paste) and cellulose (paper, cardboard).

Consequences:

illustration Beetles (especially active at larval stage) make galleries in the book thickness.
Silverfish remain on the surface are especially fond of leather. Therefore the deterioration is more superficial.

Solutions:

Insects hate light, that is why the best way of protecting books is to go through them regularly (direct light is harmful to books though).
Moreover, good temperature and humidity conditions are necessary to prevent insects from proliferating, even if they are not total deterred.

Micro-organisms

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Causes:

Infection causes can be numerous: Contact with infected books (especially with damp books) or presence of dust carrying fungus spores.
These organisms spread with humidity.

Consequences:

Funguses attack paper and binding. They disintegrate them and leave colored stains due to the pigments they create. illustration

Solutions:

Books must regularly be dusted to prevent funguses from settling, and must be kept in fresh places.

Man: bad handling

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Causes:

Out of a habit, we often take a book by its headcap, open it flat, and put it away on its edge on a shelf. Old bindings cannot bear such handling because their materials are not flexible enough.

Consequences:

Headcaps get torn, corners get blunt, joints splits, leathers peel off...

Solutions:

Restoration is often the solution. Yet in the long term, the best attitude would be to change handling habits !

Man: repair

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Causes:

Some good-will readers make bad repairs which usually damage boks even more.

Consequences:

Blank patches are stuck on texts, sellotape is used to repair torn paper, as well as non-reversible glue, or very acidic stuff...

Solutions:

Such repairs is not always reversible, it depends on the glue and sticky-paper used.