Skip to Main Content
It looks like you're using Internet Explorer 11 or older. This website works best with modern browsers such as the latest versions of Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Edge. If you continue with this browser, you may see unexpected results.
This Is Auburn Auburn University Libraries LibGuides

Library Preservation: Shelving

Shelving Do's and Don'ts - for home libraries, too


  • DO keep your books in a stable, moderate environment.  A good rule of thumb is that if you’re comfortable, so are your books.  Room temperature, around 70 degrees (though even cooler is better), and a moderate stable relative humidity (around 40-50%) is best. .
  • DO keep your books away from direct sunlight and other bright light. Light fades and deteriorates book covers and book jackets.
  • DO clean your book edges regularly by dusting or gentle vacuuming.
  • DO shelve your books upright, and support them with bookends so they won’t slump or become misshapen.  If you have oversize or large, heavy volumes that don’t fit upright on the shelf, store them flat.


  • DON’T put your bookshelves along exterior walls, where they may experience more temperature and humidity changes.  Try to place them along interior walls.
  • DON’T repair damaged covers or paper with pressure-sensitive adhesive tape.
  • DON’T use oil or leather dressing on your leather bindings; wiping leather bindings with a plain soft cloth is best.
  • DON’T pull on the top of the spine when removing books from shelves. This can cause the top of the book’s spine to break and detach over time. Instead, push back books on either side and grasp the volume you want to remove at the middle of the spine and pull to remove from the shelf.
  • DON’T use self-stick notes, paper clips or rubber bands.  Instead, use a slip of acid-free paper as a bookmark.

Useful eResources

Murder in the Stacks! This 15 minute video is a classic (and humorous) take on shelving and handling of library materials. It it relevant to anyone concerned about storing their books properly.

Rutgers University Guide to Library Shelving!   Rutgers prepared this pdf for their staff. It is a nice "how to" for people charged with properly handling and shelving library materials