Book Repair

About the Group

The group meets once a week, on Thursdays, to repair books that are too damaged to circulate.  The bindery space, upstairs in the mezzanine area, can accommodate 5 people comfortably.

We work for three hours and typically repair 20 - 30 books in that time.

The members of the group all receive instruction on basic book repairs, and then progress to more advanced techniques. Typical basic repairs are glueing in loose pages and reglueing hinges (the "gutters" beside the spine). Many books detach at the spine area and we are becoming proficient at reattaching the text block to the front and back boards. Part of the work is assessing whether a damaged book is worth the time and effort to repair. Some books just can't be saved. Many of the books benefit from a quick clean of the covers.

Learning to mend books results in learning some new vocabulary, too, as we all learn the anatomy of books.

The group is occasionally called upon to cover new books. We also recycle covers from books that are being removed from the library collection.  We try to pass on to other volunteers what we have learned about how to protect books from damage in the first place: proper shelving and handling.

Tools and Methods

Much of our work is with glue and small paintbrushes. The library bindery uses a book press and also bricks to apply pressure to newly glued books. We also use clamps and splints to hold books square until the glue dries. We use special tapes to reinforce some glueing jobs. And then we have a growing collection of odd-but-useful items, such as knitting needles and bamboo skewers. The tasks do not require strength, but do require focus, attention to detail, good eyesight (or whatever aids are needed to fake it!), and the willingness to persevere when an initial repair needs further work. 

The leader of the mending group is responsible for: scheduling; inviting new members and ensuring they receive training; maintaining necessary supplies. The leader must also be responsive to the needs of the librarians, as well as the various book committees.  This particular group is very cooperative and collaborative, and the members typically use online resources to learn book repair techniques.