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There are many reasons that book repair is a necessary part of a librarian's job. Budgets don't allow for nonchalant disposing of worn books. The damaged book may be out-of-print, a rare edition, or possess some other value. Patience is the main factor to successfully rebinding a book. Book menders are like doctors. Preserving is not cheap, especially when the aim is to make voluminous records accessible to the public.

There are three basic components of a workspace for mending books. These three components are lighting; tools; and supplies and equipment. Adequate storage for supplies is essential. Large and heavy items should be stored horizontally to help prevent warpage. These would be items such as binders board or barrier board. Access to a sink is a necessity for any book repair station. It is needed to clean brushes and containers. A heat source, such as a stove or microwave is also needed for some book repair. Natural light is best for book repair because it gives the least distortion. When natural light is not available an incandescent task lamp should be used. Most professional book repairers prefer working standing up. By standing up they have better leverage and control. Any large flat surface can be adapted for a book repair station. The surface of the repair bench should be resistant to scratches and easily cleaned. Formica or laminate are good choices.

Some of the tools for book repair are: Bone folders, brushes, dissecting needle, glass or Plexiglas, knitting needles, knives and blades, micro-spatula, rulers, scissors, sewing needles, tacking iron, T-square or triangle, tweezers, and weights. Supplies for book repair include: Bookcloth, board, cleaning pad, cloth, erasures, glue, heat-set tissue, nonwoven (spun) polyester, papers, paste, polyester film, book tape, tape for paper, tape for archives, double-sided tape, and thread. Some equipment for book repair are Board shear, book press, corner rounder, laminating machine, paper cutter, and phase box maker.

One of the common things a book mender does is paper cleaning. Paper may become soiled from dirty fingers, markings, accidents, and normal air pollution. The least abrasive form of cleaning agents are cleaning powders. They are very good for such problems as dingy appearance, smudges, and general dirt marks. The supplies needed for using a cleaning powder are a document cleaning pad. Popular brands are Charvoz, Lineco, and Opaline. The typical procedure is four steps. The first step is to sprinkle a small amount of cleaning powder over the dirty area. If using a document cleaning pad, twist the pad until the proper amount of powder drops out. Do not rub the pad itself on the paper. Clean only a small area at a time. The second step is to use the flat part of your fingertips to gently rub in a circular motion. Do not apply force with the ends of your fingers. Continue to rub until the powder looks dirty. Next, use a soft brush to sweep the dirty powder off the edge of the paper. Lastly, continue with clean powder. If after a few applications the area does not become clean progress to the next cleaning agent, the erasure. The least abrasive erasure is a kneaded rubber eraser. They are excellent for surface dirt. Gum erasures are used for pencil marks on delicate paper. Plastic and vinyl erasers are used for graphite marks on paper and film. Compound erasures such as Pink Pearl and While Pearl are the most abrasive erasures. For kneaded rubber erasures remove wrap and knead eraser until it is pliable. Pull off a small piece and knead into a ball. The kneading will help the eraser to become tacky. Dap the eraser ball onto the mark you are trying to remove, but don¡¯t rub it. It will pick up surface particles without leaving a visible residue. Gently brush dirt particles off eraser, and replace it when it becomes dirty or rough. For all other types of erasures rub gently in one direction with small, gentle strokes, while carefully holding the edge of the paper down with your fingers. Work towards the edge of the paper. After several strokes, brush residue off edge of paper, making certain that the particles don't remain on your work space. Feel the paper to see if it has become rough, if it has it means you are removing the paper¡¯s surface alone with the mark. This weakens the paper.

Another common repair is paper mending. One common way is glue and paste mends. Gluing or pasting torn pages back together edges back together is the simplest way to repair a tear in a piece of paper, but this can be done only when the torn edges of the paper are beveled to some extent. By beveled it means that one edge of the tear overlaps the other edge. The type of paste that used should be rather thin. The first step involves using a piece of nonwoven polyester (Reemay) and a piece of blotting paper. Be use to line up the bevels of the tear before beginning this procedure. The edges of some tears will fluctuate along the length of the tear, with first one edge on top, then the other. Now lay the bevel of the raised edge down on the glued bevel and carefully tap the tear to tack the bevels together. Put apiece of Reemay on each side of the mended paper and blotting paper on the outside of the Reemay. Gently smooth the repair with a bone folder. Lastly place the repaired paper, with the blotting paper and the Remay under weights and allow the paste to dry. Let it dry overnight. Tapes can be used on virtually any type of tear. However, it is not recommended for items of artistic, archival, or historical value. Not only is tape versatile, it is also the simplest and most economical tool for repairing tears in paper. There are many times of tape. Document repair tape is the most archival tape available. This type of tape costs approximately 15 cents per foot. 3M Scotch Magic Transparent Tape costs only about 2 cents per foot. To do this repair first line up the torn edges to be repaired. Be careful to follow the bevels of the tear. Tear off a piece of tape as long as the tear. For an edge tear you can use a piece twice as long as the tear, folding it around the edge of the paper to strengthen the mend on both sides. Make the fold in the tape slightly beyond the edge of the paper as a precaution to prevent possible damage to the edge of the paper. Gently place the piece of tape on the tear. Carefully tack the tape in place, starting at one end of the repair and working to the other end. When the tape is in place, lay polyester film on the repair and use a bone folder to gently rub the ape through the film. When the tape is firmly affixed to both sides of the paper, use a metal ruler and an X-Acto knife or scalpel to trim any tape that overhangs the edge of the paper. Heat-set tissue should be used for items that require a more archival repair. Once the initial purchase of tools and supplies, this is a simple and economical process. Variations of the repair can be applied to looses and well as tears and cuts. One particularly useful type of paper mending is the tipping-in of leaves that have come loose or have been torn out. A leaf can be torn out of a book in many different ways, each producing a different set of problems. If a narrow, easily accessible stub was left along the gutter of the book, just line up the edges of the torn out page and the stub in the book, and then repair with tape. If the leaf was torn down into the gutter at one of points along the spine, the book and the torn out page must be prepared. Whatever scraps of a stub were left in the book should be trimmed to an even line if there is enough of the stub left to do this. The spine edge of the leaf should be trimmed to a straight line that is perpendicular to the top and bottom edges of the page. If more than ¨û inch has been trimmed from the page, it is best to attach a hinge to the spine edge of the page. The leaf, with its hinge if necessary, should be placed face down on a piece of mylar or waste paper. Another piece of mylar or waste paper should be placed on top of the leaf, allowing 1/16 to 1/8 inch of the spine edge of the leaf to extend beyond the edge of the waste paper. If an entire leaf or pair of leaves has fallen out of the book, this and subsequent steps can be used with no previous preparation of the leaf or leaves. While firmly holding the top piece of mylar or waste paper in place, spread paste along the protruding spine edge of the page. Carefully line up the edges of the leaf with the edges of the textblock, and press the hinge edge against the leaf behind it. If the tipped-in page extends beyond the fore edge of the textblock, trim off the excess paper. Insert a release layer such as wax paper on both sides of the tipped-in page and close the book. Put a weight on top and allow to the paste to dry overnight. Japanese Paper and Starch-paste mends offer an alternative for many paper mends. For items that are not adversely affected by moisture, Japanese paper and starch paste provide the strongest, most archival repair. It can even be used to repair losses, using the same techniques for repairing losses with heat-set tissue. In order to mend tears with Japanese paper and starch paste the mender has to know how to tear Japanese paper and how to make starch paste. The Japanese paper should be torn instead of cut in order to allow some of the long fibers of the paper to extend beyond the edge of the torn strip. This utilizes the long fibers of the paper to their best advantage and makes the edge of the repair less noticeable.

The hinges and spines of books are especially vulnerable to damage from repeated use, careless handling, and even from book drops. Most hardbound books found in the library have a case binding. A case binding consists of two boards and a spine piece made as a single unit, which is attached to the textblock. When the hinges have not torn away, but the textblock is sagging in the boards, tightening loose hinges is useful. To do this first stand the book on the table with the boards spread wide enough to hold the book up. Gently pull the textblock away from the spine, but do not tear the hinges. Next dip a knitting needle into a glue bottle. Be careful to avoid the spine while inserting the knitting needle into the gap between the loose end sheet and the board of the case. Close the book and lay it flat. Use a bone folder to push the outer hinges down in the joint. Place wax paper between the boards and the textblock and place the book under weights. Replacing the spine is necessary when books are given weak or inadequate covering material in the original binding and the piece of material covering the spine can become weakened or torn. Frequent use, thoughtless handling, inappropriate shelving, or even frequent use can also cause the spine to need replacing. If a book has a torn hinge, and if the case is still intact the single inner hinge can be replaced. If both hinges are torn, the book should be recased.

Paperback books are desirable for their price but their inherently weak spines and hinges make them difficult to keep for any long period of time. There are ways to strengthen the hinges and spines of paperback books. The simplest is to apply book tape to the spine. Paperback books can be laminated. They can also be reinforced with boards, inner hinges, or outer hinges.

Lavender, Kenneth and Stockton, Scott. Book Repair New York: Neal-Schuman, 1992
Horton, Carolyn. Cleaning and Preserving Bindings and Related Materials. Chicago. American Library Association. 1967
¡°Book Repair Guide: Mending torn pages¡± 2002
Loudoun County Public Schools ¡°These Women Have Been Doing It by the Book for 40 Years¡± 15 April 2002.
BellaOnline ¡°Book Mending¡± by Paula Laurita.
LexisNexis Headline News ¡°Mending hands restore well-worn library books¡± By Inga Miller. 2 June 2003.
LexisNexis Metro; Pg. B1. ¡°Preservationists expertly mend tattered views of history; At Cleveland Public Library, specialists repair their curled, brittle, even broken ¡®patients¡¯¡± 13 November 2001.
LexisNexis Loudoun Extra; Pg. T03. ¡°Bound by a Generous Spirit; Book-Repair Club Still Going Strong After 40 Years¡± 28 April 2002.
LexisNexis News Pg. F5. ¡°Bound to Make a Difference: Club repairs books 80-year-old man wanted to pass on the art of restoring¡± 27 February 2003.