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All Booked Up

A Script for Sorting and Cleaning Books

Boys reading bookWhile there's no doubt that e-readers are gaining in popularity, traditional books are still an important part of many households. Some are one-time reads; some are treasured resources. Some are merely decorative, while others are there for the enjoyment of turning the physical page.

During routine cleaning, bookshelves are usually subject to a cursory dusting – a pass with a dust rag, a flick of a duster and we're done. But if there are books you want to hold onto for a long time, proper cleaning will extend their life. Dust and dirt can abrade pages and bindings and attract insects. In addition, a dusty, dirty environment supports mold growth, which isn't good for the books or healthy for the humans around them, particularly if those humans suffer from asthma or allergies.

January is National Book Month and Aprin is School Library Month – perfect times to sort, donate, properly clean and store your books suggests Nancy Bock, Vice President of Consumer Education at the American Cleaning Institute®.

Stack of library books

Gather Up Your Books – both those in bookcases and those that are scattered throughout the house. Separate the ones you no longer want, and donate them to a thrift shop or a library sale. For more ideas, type "where to donate used books" in your Internet search engine. One interesting site is BookCrossing.com, a site that encourages leaving a book in a public place to be picked up and read by others, who then do likewise. Books can be registered on the site (registration is free), so their travels can be tracked.

Clean the Books. Start with the dirtiest part of the book, which is usually the top. For a light accumulation of dust, use a magnetic dust cloth. For a heavy layer of dust, vacuum the books, using a soft brush attachment. If the books are very old, add a piece of cheese cloth between the end of the hose and the brush attachment. This will keep any loose binding fragments from being sucked into the vacuum. Whether vacuuming or dusting, hold the book firmly closed to prevent dirt from slipping in between the pages.

Clean the Shelves. Use the cleaning product best suited to the shelf material and the amount of dirt. If more than dusting is required, make sure that the shelves are thoroughly dry before the books are put back.