Thursday, April 4, 2013

De-Mold your Literary Gold: A Brief Book Binder's Guide to Fungi Removal

   About a year ago, I found four Victorian-era books, and two Edwardians while I was at my local thrift store. Of corse I bought them, even though two of them were romances (one my least favorite genres). There is something to just having old books around that makes a home feel more magical.
   To my dismay, I had overlooked the fact that three of my newest babies had-- *gasp* spotted covers! To paraphrase Cornelia Funke, mold can destroy a book collection as certainly as fire. It is a silent killer, feeding on your beloved volumes and spreading like the plague. And mold isn't just bad for books; it is also harmful to your health! That is why I am telling you how to de-mold your lovelies if you have caught them early enough. And please, proceed with cation! I, Evie Rooks am not to be held liable to any damage caused to your own health or that to your books by following the steps below.

1. Assess the damage
   Look your book(s) over for mold or mildew. Keep an eye out for water damage or unusual stains, these could be mildew! Mold looks like little grey, white, or black raised specks or strands when first starting to grow. Also be on the lookout for that musty "old book" smell. If the mold has taken over much of your book, you may be better off tossing it out. Not many book-binders do mold repare as far as I know. Black mold is the most dangerous to your health, so proceed with cation. If your book is indeed moldy, be sure to "quarantine" it as soon as possible in a sealed plastic bag, to avoid the spreading of spoors.

The beginning of a moldy corner on a 1882 edition of
Peabody's Webster's Dictionary,  pocket sized.

Foxing (a form of harmless mildew) on the tops of the pages of a 1895 edition of  Elizabethan Lyrics.
2. Vacuum
   YOU MUST USE A HEPIFILTER VACUUM OR ELSE MOLD-SPORES WILL BE BLOWN ALL OVER THE PLACE, WORSENING YOUR PROBLEM!!! Okay, don't say I didn't warn you! Using a HepiFilter vacuum hose, secure a dryer-sheet in place over the suction end with a rubber-band or hair elastic. Use this to remove all the mold you can from the book. BE CAREFUL!!! If your book is fragile, this could rip pages if you don't hold them right!

3. Wash away those stubborn spores!
   Using hydrogin peroxide, LIGHTLY dampen a soft paint-brush, squeezing out excess peroxide on a clean, dry rag. Use this brush to wipe down all those spots you vacuumed mold off of, and anywhere else that has water damage. The peroxide kills the spoors and any remaining mold. This is also good for removing some stains! Be careful not to get your book too wet, or else further damage may arise, or more mold will grow on the soggy pages.

Note how dry the brush is.
4. Let dry
   Ultra Violet (UV) light kills mold. Let your books dry out in the sun for further protection from mold. But, if you are like me, and the weather is too poor to allow you to do this at the moment, you can create a light box! This is easy! All you do, is take a sturdy cardboard box, line it with aluminum foil, place your books inside, and set a full-spectrum lamp over them while they dry. You have to be careful doing this, because it can bleach the color out of your books over time. You can find full-spectrum lighting at garden stores and pet stores, in the reptile and aquarium sections. If you know somebody who keeps reptiles or tropical fish, they may be willing to give you one of their retired bulbs. I know, as a reptile caregiver, that these things build up, because they are no longer strong enough after just nine months to a year of use. Don't let this sway you, though even though they are still good enough for your books.

The inside of a lightbox.

5. Check your book and quarentine it again.
   Check over your book for mold you may have missed. There will be some residual staining, but this doesn't have to mean anything. Even if it looks good, it is wise to quarantine your book again, for at least a couple weeks. You can do this by placing it in a dry, brightly lit place away from other books. If you like, you can put it in a plastic zip-lock bag. Even though this prevents the spread of mold, it can also create a stagnant environment if your book isn't completely dry. So choose wisely.

I hope this has helped you save some of your beloved volumes!
~Evie Rooks

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