Books often receive a lot of abuse before they even leave the bookshelf. They are yanked off the shelf by the top of the spine, forced back on the shelf between tightly packed books, and shelved on their fore edges when they are too tall. Often the bookends used are not strong enough to support the weight of a shelf of books so the books lean at precarious angles.
1. REMOVING BOOKS FROM THE SHELF
Books should not be removed from the shelf by pulling on the spine of the book. The book cloth in that area can be weak and tear, especially when the book is old.
The best way to remove a book from the shelf is also the most time consuming. First, loosen the bookend and push the books around the desired book toward the back of the shelf. Grasp the desired book and pull it straight off the shelf, then reach to the back of the pushed back books and slide them forward. Finally, tighten the bookend.
A second, perhaps more practical, method involves paying attention as a book is removed from the shelf and using one special technique. If the book seems wedged tightly between other books, stop and loosen the bookend. Instead of pulling the book off the shelf by the top of the spine, the cover’s weak point, put an index finger on about 1” of the top of the text block. Pull the book off the shelf with that finger.
The most important thing to remember is not to force the book off the shelf.
2. RESHELVING BOOKS
When reshelving, don’t force a book back into a tight shelf. Loosen the bookend if necessary and carefully slide the adjacent books out of the way. Shelve the book then tighten the bookend pressure. Never force a book onto the shelf.
Bookends can be dangerous for books. Many bookends are very thin and it is easy to shelve a book right into them. Pay attention as books are being retrieved or shelved.
3. LEANING BOOKS
Keep books well supported on the shelf with proper bookends. Poorly supported books tend to lean at precarious angles, putting a great deal of stress on the front and back hinges.
4. SHELVING BOOKS ON THEIR FORE EDGES
Oversize books are often shelved on their fore edges so that they will fit on a standard height shelf. This practice is deadly for books. As explained in an earlier post, most modern text blocks are only held into their cases by a small amount of crash and glue. When a book is shelved on its fore edges, gravity is constantly working on the text block, forcing it to separate from the cover. If a book is too tall for the shelf, consider creating a special “oversize” section.
5. OVERSIZE BOOKS
Shelving oversize books can be a challenge. The best way to shelve them is lying flat on the shelf. Many people designate the bottom shelf of a range of bookcases as the Oversize Shelf, again shelving flat.
Books shelved flat can be tricky to manipulate. If you want the book
on the bottom, the tendency is to just pull it out, sometimes bringing all the books out with it. Leave an empty shelf to use as a staging area so books on top of the desired book can be placed on that shelf, then returned once the desired book is in hand. You will also appreciate the work space when re-shelving oversize books.