There's no good spot to have a fire in your home, strictly speaking, but one of the worst places to have an inferno break out is in your home library. Not only do those dry paper books provide plenty of fuel for the flames — literally — but they're also expensive to re-purchase and can be, in some cases where the books have been marked or notated in, impossible to reproduce.
So how do you know when your home library is salvageable and when you need to let go and start again? If you're wondering how to assess fire damage to your books, then here's what you need to know.
Check for Content
The first thing you'll want to do is to make a list of any and all books that are burned beyond readability; if you can identify the book, note the name. If not, ask the other members of your household and/or try googling any passages within the book that you can find to identify it.
Then, check for books that were partially burned but still intact; If all the content is still readable and present, set it aside for cleaning. If not, note the title down and move on; there's nothing more that you can do for that book.
The next thing you should do is flip through any books sturdy enough to be opened and leafed through and check for any notes or underlined/highlighted passages. These are insights that you should keep if you can.
Take pictures of the notes (and other markings) with you phone, noting the name of the book along with them; this will help you to transfer notes when you purchase a new copy of the book.
Clean the Books
If your books aren't burned too badly, the great news is that you can clean them up to be (almost) as good as new. There are guides on the internet telling you how to clean your books at home, as well as step-by-step videos done by professionals to walk you through the process. Remember, light smoke damage will be a lot easier to treat at home than heavy, so judge accordingly.
If all else fails (or if you're too nervous to do the restoration work yourself), contact fire damage restoration experts in your area. There's sure to be someone who specializes in removing fire damage from books and other paper goods who can help you with what you need.