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April 21, 2014 / Charlie McNabb

OLA Day 1: Book Repair Workshop

Last week, I had the tremendous pleasure of attending the 2014 Oregon Library Association annual conference in Salem. The three-day conference included keynote speakers, multiple sessions to choose from, exhibits, showcases, and plenty of opportunity for socializing at receptions and meals. On Wednesday, April 16th, I went to an all-day preconference workshop on basic book repair, to supplement my preservation/conservation skills.

During the 8-hour (with breaks!) workshop, we learned techniques for cover repair and reattachment, hinge and spine repair, and reattaching loose pages. The instructor, Carolee Harrison, is a Special Collections and Conservation Technician at Portland State University, and her demonstrations and guidance were excellent.

Swag Bag

Swag Bag

First of all, would you look at this lovely swag bag each participant received? Almost all the tools required for basic book repair, along with instructions!

The day began with two demonstrations and hands-on practice for hinge tightening (applying special adhesive to repair a loose text block).

Hinge Tightening I

Hinge Tightening I

Here I’m using a thin wooden skewer to apply polyvinyl acetate adhesive (PVA) between the endpaper and case.

Hinge Tightening II

Hinge Tightening II

Here I’m using a brush to apply PVA between the endpaper and text block. Note the scrap paper used to keep the adhesive tidy and avoid gluing the whole thing together.

Next, we practiced rebacking a book with a torn spine with a new cloth spine.

Spine Removal

Spine Removal

First, we had to remove the deteriorated spine using an x-acto knife. “Push hard enough to punch through the cloth!” they said.

Whoops

Whoops

I accidentally punched all the way through and sliced the board.

New Spine

New Spine

I created a nice new spine using book cloth and bristol board.

Mending Tissue

Mending Tissue

I got to repair the sliced board using some lovely mending tissue.

Drying

Drying

Wax paper to protect endpaper from wayward adhesive and then a weight to help the new spine correctly set while drying.

Ta-Da!

Ta-Da!

Finally, I tidied up the old spine and glued it onto the new one.

We also learned how to tip in loose pages, how to create a new hollow tube for the spine, and how to repair corners.

Portland State University Fine and Performing Arts Librarian Kris Kern was also present at the workshop and gave a presentation about disaster management and preservation planning through the entire life cycle of a library item. It was helpful to really think about all the steps from acquisition to circulation and ways to help items last longer. Of course, my long-time pet peeve (fasteners) was addressed, but I also learned about simple preservation ideas like providing plastic bags so materials don’t get wet.

All in all, the workshop was incredibly practical and interesting. These book repair methods are for circulating materials, not for rare or archival items. Using adhesives makes permanent changes to the format of the book. So, I won’t be using any of these techniques in the archives. However, I know that what I’ve learned in this workshop will be invaluable when I’m working in a university or public library setting. And maybe for some of my personal collection too!

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