Garages might seem a suitable place to store books, especially if the space isn't being used. In some ways, they are. Garages are out of the way and protected from the elements, including sunlight. Books, however, are vulnerable to the damp, mould and pests often found in garages. Numerous insects consider books a tasty snack, the organic paper is an excellent substrate for fungi, and mice find the pages useful for nest-making projects. Without central heating or much ventilation, quiet places like garages make ideal homes for such organisms. Before placing all your much-loved books in the garage, take a few precautions to keep them in reasonably good condition.
Position shelving throughout the available space and fill with your books. Find inexpensive freestanding bookshelves at discount shops, charity shops or online classified ads. It might seem more efficient in terms of space to store books in cartons, but the inaccessibility of such storage methods and lack of air circulation increase the likelihood of damage.
Position one or more hygrometers in your garage and check daily for the first few days and once a week thereafter. These devices measure the atmospheric humidity. When the relative humidity goes above about 30 to 40 per cent, take action to reduce it. Because a garage is not living space, low humidity won't cause any problems but high humidity usually results in mouldy books.
Run a portable dehumidifier as required to reduce the humidity.
Position cotton balls soaked in peppermint oil to deter mice. Don't place the balls directly on books; instead, place them along walls, underneath the shelving and near any potential mouse entrances.
Inspect your books at least once a week. Look for signs of mould and insect damage. A torch allows you to inspect darker corners for pests. If numerous books are displaying damage, you may need to move them, take further pest control steps or increase use of the dehumidifier.
Dust or vacuum the garage and books once a month. An accumulation of dust and dirt provides a home for insects and other small creatures, which may damage your books.