the corner office

a blog, by Colin Pretorius

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The Efficient Use of Steam

The people at the local Waitrose must think I'm nuts. It's not every day you see the scraggly-haired foreign man buying loads of boxes of resealable plastic bags. They must think I'm trying to dispose of a body. The little old grannies might think otherwise. Such a nice man, feeding the fisheys every day. Anyway.

As I mentioned before, we don't have space for all of our books, so most of them will be staying in boxes. I still wanted to unpack them all and make sure they'd survived the move. Thankfully, despite some rather horrendous packing, Allied Pickfords managed to not fuck them up too badly. Now that they're all unpacked, I had to decide what best to do with them. I'm an old book nut, and while most of my books aren't particularly valuable beyond sentiment, as the years have passed, a few have become centenarians. A few more are getting close. Back in South Africa they just sat on shelves, and I never thought much about them. Now that we're here, and now that shelves aren't an option for all of them, it needs a bit more thinking.

The problem is that there's just a mountain of conflicting advice out there. The pack them upright and don't squash them stuff is easy to do. I have that covered. The rest is just too conflicting. Basements are best. Don't store them in basements. Light is bad. Darkness encourages mould. Lots of air flow. Glass-doored bookcases. High humidity is bad, but so is low humidity which makes paper and leather brittle. Buy dessicants. Moth balls. No insecticides. Protect them with bags, but bags can cause condensation, and polythene breaks down, buy mylar bags which are worth more than the books and last a century. It gets a bit much.

The problem is I don't know the English climate well enough yet, and I'm not sure which is going to be the most dangerous: damp, mould, or insects. Mould seems more of a risk here than it was back on the Highveld, but I've seen more books damaged by critters than fungus in my time, and I can't shake my nervousness about the bugs. Either way, they have to go in boxes; it's just the how that needs sorting out. For now the books are going into plastic bags, but I'm going to pay a visit to a few book dealers this coming week and see what they say.

{2007.04.01 - 01:34}

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