How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Fix a book

A book repair workshop was brought to my attention and full disclosure, I didn’t know what to think since I usually concentrate on marketing the library. Wacom tablets, Adobe Creative Suite programs and graphic design are friends. I didn’t know a thing about book repair, so I asked our director if she was sure she wanted me to attend and she assured me that she was. The point wasn’t that I was unfamiliar with book repair, but that I probably would like to be. After a bit of thought I agreed that it was something I might enjoy since I liked to design the library display cases, enjoyed a bit of crafting here and there in my spare time and am no stranger to working with my hands. So off to Raleigh, NC I went to the North Carolina Preservation Consortium (NCPC) Basic Book Repair Workshop.

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Super instructor Craig

When I arrived to the workshop classroom, I met our instructor Craig Fansler. Craig is the Preservation Librarian at Z. Smith Reynolds library at Wake Forrest University. He had all of the basic materials we were going to use set out on the tables, I just had to find a seat and we began. There were people there from Duke, Elon, the local public library and also a woman who worked mainly with textiles, but was interested in learning about books. After everyone introduced themselves it was off to work. The first thing we did was go over some basic information from a handout pack, we learned parts of a book, reviewed the book repair tools on our tables, and a list materials suppliers. We learned 2 main rules. 1. Do No Harm (like a physicians’ Hippocratic Oath) and 2. ALWAYS use archival repair materials because they are acid free.

20160603_093343Time to doctor some books. We all had 1 paperback and 1 hard cover book that had seen better days to repair. Craig had us tear a part of a page to fix it. Riiiiip, it was weird to tear a book on purpose but here we all were ripping up pages. We used special paper to basically iron on to the tears and, viola the pages were repaired.

Eventually we learned how to properly glue together whole chapters from sections of pages and then the biggest thing for me was to tear apart a book spine and repair it. This. Felt. Wrong. Mostly because we had to use tools to dig in the book spine to remove it and then cut the top layer of the books cloth cover to the board it was attached to and lift part of it up to add our newly created spines. We were already tearing up the books and my book was being tough, but I eventually tore it up and repaired it.

Craig also reminded me to give him a shout if I had more questions or needed help since I am at WSSU and he is at Wake (super close). I’m so glad I attended the workshop. It felt normal to me after all, like a scrapbooking session. I enjoyed learning about book repair and I plan to continue learning more.

Author: Luchrita Fulton, O’kelly Staff

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