How to Store Books in Boxes

Whether storing books for a move or long-term storage, correctly preparing and packing your collection is important to maintain the life of your books. Insects, moisture and mold can all damage books that are stored under adverse conditions. Taking the necessary precautions will minimize potential damage and keep your books preserved during storage.


Select small- or medium-sized boxes. Containers should close securely and be free of grease or food particles to keep insects away. File boxes with hand-holds or tubs with handles are easiest to carry.

Examine books for signs of insects. Tiny, black eggs are most often found in the gutters between pages. Carefully remove any dirt with a soft brush.

Wrap leather-bound volumes or very old books in acid free paper which slows the decay and yellowing of pages. The paper also prevents the transfer of stains and oils to other books. Place items with brittle pages in archival boxes to keep pieces together.

Prepare a storage area that is clean, dry, dark and unlikely to be effected by temperature and humidity fluctuations. Heat, moisture and light all create conditions which speed decay in the chemical make-up of the paper in books. A well ventilated room toward the center of the building is ideal.

Packing and Storing

Fill boxes with books of various sizes. Large, heavy books should be laid flat on the bottom and lighter ones placed on top. Alternate spines and fore-edges to prevent warping.

Pack books of the same size in an upright position. Do not pack them too tightly as covers may tear when removing books that are crammed together. Leave a bit of space around the books to allow air circulation, which reduces the possibility of mold forming.

Fill empty spaces with plastic peanuts or bubble wrap. This prevents books from shifting and getting damaged when moved. Close and secure the boxes.

Stack boxes on skids or another raised platform in the storage area to protect against flooding. Do not pile the containers too high to avoid instability. If there are pipes overhead, loosely cover the boxes with a sheet of plastic, but allow for air circulation.


Tape an inventory of the contents to the outside of each carton to make it easier to find specific books. Monitor the storage area occasionally to check for water or insect damage.

Do not use moth balls as an insect deterrent because the health risk for humans is too high.

Things You'll Need

  • Small- to medium-sized boxes or plastic bins
  • Acid free paper
  • Archival boxes
  • Packing material