BookTalk Q&A

Joaquim Neves Shares Tips on Book Care

Joaquim Neves Shares Tips on Book Care

Joaquim Neves

Joaquim Neves, also known as Jack, is the Library's Preservation Manager. A UC San Diego Alum who has worked in various capacities at the Library for 21 years, Jack's top priorities are to maintain the physical condition of the Library's large collection of circulating volumes. He also works to ensure that the Library can respond effectively to a disaster that impacts our collections, and tries to educate the public on the importance of preserving library and personal collections. Toward this end, Jack oversees a well-trained team of students that assists him with book repairs and conducts disaster response training sessions. He is also active in promoting preservation through demonstrations and talks, and participates in the American Library Association's National Preservation Week activities, which takes place this year from April 26 to May 2, 2015. Jack, who is currently working on his MLIS degree from San Jose State University, shares some of his insights on the proper care of books.

Q: What are your three top tips for taking care of book collections?

A: My top three tips would be to control the environment where the collections are kept, use safe, nonreactive shelving, and maintain cleanliness.
Maintaining a healthy environment for your books is probably the most important tip. Elements of the environment to pay attention to are humidity, temperature, and light. Because the paper in books absorbs and releases moisture, it is important to keep books in an environment where the relative humidity levels range from about 45% - 50%. Humidity levels that are too low can cause the paper to dry out and become brittle. Humidity levels that are too high can cause paper to become damp and act as a substrate that promotes the growth of mold. High temperatures along with high humidity levels are the main contributors to mold growth. A safe temperature range for storing books in a general collection is between 68 - 72 degrees. Our Library's Special Collections & Archives maintains an environment with a temperature of 60 degrees and a relative humidity of 45% to maximize the life of the collection. The last element, light, is pretty obvious. Direct sunlight will not only fade the fabrics on your furniture, rugs and art work, it will also cause damage to your books.
Proper shelving is another good tip to protect your collections. You want to make sure your shelves are made out of a material that will not react with the paper or covers of your book. Wood shelves are a bad choice because wood has been proven to have acid properties that can react with paper and cause damage over time. Anodized aluminum or chromeplated steel shelves are some of the best materials to choose. If you already have wood shelves, you can mitigate the hazardous effects by using glass or acrylic sheeting to form a barrier between your books and the wood. You may also choose to line your shelves with other non-reactive materials.
My last tip is to maintain the cleanliness of your book collection by always washing your hands before handling the books and making sure that they are free of dust, which can react with the pages of your book and attract insects.

Q: Are their instances where a minor repair could be handled by a non-professional or do you think it's always best to have books professionally repaired?

A: Yes. The Northeast Documentation Conservation Center has a list of qualified book conservators from around the country. Locally, you can contact the Balboa Art Conservation Center. They often are able to assist collectors with book repair needs. Also, if you need to repair a book that is important to you but not necessarily collectible, you can always contact one of the local book binders. They can help you breathe new life into your loved but not collectible books. Library patrons and supporters are always free to contact me if they have any questions about book repair. The following are excellent online resources for book collectors:

Exhibits & Events

"National Poetry Month."

  • April 1 - April 30
  • Various Library Locations.
  • For more information:
  • Webpage.

"HLHW: Growing Up in the Shadow of the Holocaust: A Roundtable Discussion."

  • April 15, 5:00 - 7:00 pm
  • Seuss Room, Geisel Library.
  • For more information:
  • Webpage.

"Earth Week Green Maker Fair."

  • April 22, 11:30 - 1:00pm
  • Seuss Room, Geisel Library.
  • For more information:
  • Webpage.

"HLHW: "I Had to Clean My Heart" A Film by Robert Schneider and Alberto Lau."

  • April 22, 5:00 - 7:00 pm
  • Holocaust Living History Workshop.
  • Seuss Room, Geisel Library
  • For more information:
  • Webpage.

"National Preservation Week: Pop-Up Exhibits & Events."

  • April 26 - May 2
  • Geisel Library locations.
  • For more information:
  • Webpage.

"HLHW: Randol Schoenberg, “star” of “Woman in Gold."

  • May 6, 5:00 - 7:00 pm
  • Hojel Hall, Copley International Conference Center.
  • For more information:
  • Webpage.

"Library Chimes Featured in La Jolla Symphony Premiere."

  • May 2 and May 3
  • Mandeville Auditorium.
  • For more information:
  • Webpage.

Domain Editor

Dolores Davies

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