Okay, germaphobes, you may want to cover your ears for a moment, especially if you're also a book lover: my dudes, library books are dirty. Like, real dirty. Think about how many hands they've had on them! Okay actually maybe don't. Shhhh, no no, erase that thought. Germaphobes? You can start listening again, because the Boston Public Library now has a car wash for books. And it's exactly as cute as you think it is.
In a recent Twitter post, the Boston Public Library let fans catch a glimpse of some behind-the-scenes magic: their book car wash (minus the water). The automated system, called a Depulvera, comes from Oracle, an entire company dedicated to book cleaning machines. Yes, that's a thing and their promotional video is the most dramatic demonstration of book care I have ever seen. No dialogue, but a lot of symphonic stringed instruments.
Portable and designed to fit between bookshelves, the Depulvera averages 12 books a minute, and ensures maximum dust-free, high-shine results with no damage to the books. For those of us who spend our days among tomes, this sounds like a God-send. Seriously, I for one wonder on a daily basis how it's possible books can generate so much grime. Borrowers, maybe? Vindictive dust bunnies?
But according to the Library Journal, dust is more than an aesthetic nuisance; "it absorbs moisture, increases acid hydrolysis, and causes a quicker breakdown of valuable resources." Oh, and it attracts insects. Essentially, it spells destruction for your books.
The structure of the book car wash is relatively straight-forward: books are pulled through on a conveyer belt, while several large-bristle brushes whisk grime away from top, bottom and spine of the book while an external fan sucks it away. The finale? A little fringed curtain exit just like in actual car washes I don't know why I'm so freaking charmed by this concept but oh boy am I!
Though the Depulvera is probably a bit too unwieldy for the individual owner, there are a number of actions you can take to combat dust and grime within your personal library. BookRiot suggests taking the dust jacket off, holding the book upside down (to prevent dirt from falling onto the pages), and using the soft-bristle attachment of a vacuum on the top edge of the book (which should be facing down). For harder to reach spots, attack (GENTLY) with a new, soft-bristled toothbrush.
Other options, according to Biblio, include lint-free rags, like a cut-up t-shirt or a much-washed tea towel (just make sure they're light-colored so you can get a visual of your progress), or an electrostatic cloth, like Swiffer, as long as it's dye- and scent-free. Dust carefully.