Designing Specific Book Repair Work

checklistOften a damaged book does not easily fit into a single repair category. It might be bound in an unfamiliar style or be material that has never been bound. When designing a repair, consider all aspects of the item to be repaired, the individual characteristics of repair materials, and the strengths and weaknesses of a particular structure.
Start by looking at how a book is constructed, why it needs repair and any previous repairs. Keep these questions in mind:

  • How does the book function?
  • Does it have signatures?
  • Is it adhesive bound? Side stapled?
  • Why did the book structure fail?
  • Is the original binding structure flawed?
  • Has a previous repair caused damage?
  • If the book has previous repairs, were inappropriate repair materials used?
  • Were the repair materials too weak or too strong for the original material?
  • If the book was damaged through use, can the damage be successfully repaired?
  • Will it happen again even if it is repaired?
  • If the original binding style was of poor construction or the paper is brittle, can the volume be successfully repaired by you? For instance, an adhesive bound book with many pages detached from the spine usually cannot be repaired without professional help.


Also consider these steps before planning your repair work:

  • Think about how a book functions now and how it will function when the repair is complete.
  • Ask librarians or book repair technicians how they would handle the repair but keep in mind that book repair is a field that has not been taught to many librarians. Beware of any answers that involve materials that are damaging to books.
  • Read books about book repair and conservation.


Reread instructions after practicing a specific repair several times; they will probably make more sense.

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