Foredge shelving (or fore-edge shelving) is a book shelving technique. Books are typically shelved upright with the spines facing outwards. However, when a book is too tall to stand upright on a shelf it may be shelved horizontally, i.e., flat, or with the spine resting on the shelf (spine shelving), or alternatively with the foredge, i.e., the part of the book opposite the spine, resting on the shelf, (foredge shelving).
Foredge shelving may damage the spine and joints of a book. A possible reason for doing it was that leaving the spine facing up makes it easier to see the call number, which is usually located on the spine.
The Northeast Document Conservation Center (NEDCC) recommends that books should never be stored on the foredge. Instead, it is recommended that either the shelves should be rearranged to accommodate the books standing upright, or the books should be moved to other shelves that can accommodate the books standing upright.
- Storage Methods and Handling Practices. Northeast Document Conservation Center. Retrieved on July 29, 2008.
- Proper Care of Library Books: A Guide for Museum Staff. American Museum of Natural History Research Library. Retrieved on July 23, 2015. The first rule on this page says: "Do not leave books on shelves or carts with the foredge down. This damages the spine and joints."
- Holdings Maintenance. National Archives and Records Administration. Retrieved on July 29, 2008. Accessible at http://www.archives.gov/preservation/holdings-maintenance. "storing a book with the spine up may cause the text to pull out of the binding due to its weight."