One of lesser known functions we perform at the Archives is the process of library book mending. Beginning winter semester, 2017, the book mending duties moved from the Library to the Archives. Archives student assistant collectively spend 10 hours each week mending damaged or worn out books from the Library’s collection. You might ask, “what does book mending entail?” In short, mending consists of repairing various torn, worn, or busted parts of books.
A typical mending slip identifies common problems with the book. In this example, the book has a worn spine that will require spine tape to be glued on to protect the spine from further damage. Other common mending actions include taping rips in pages, erasing pencil markings, reconnecting separated hinges, etc. Archives student assistant, Lydia Henning, reviews a mending slip at the start of her shift at the book mending workstation. Generally, each Archives student assistant conducts book mending duties in two-hour blocks.
When the text block of a book has broken away from the inside of the cover hinge, a common fix to use is the “Unibind” machine shown below. Basically, it provides a moderate heat for the book to sit on (spine down) to melt the special glue applied to reconnect the back of the text block to the spine hinge. The glue (opaque yellow strips) is also shown below in the bin, and is a cut to size for each book required.
For thin softcover books or books without many pages, plastic sheeting binders are used to hold the books together better and protect the spine from getting too hot.
When a book is “done” and has been mended, it’s reviewed by Glenda Ward, Archives / Library Senior Clerk. Assuming all mending efforts have been completed correctly, books are then carted back up to the Library and put back on the shelves.
Please feel free to stop by the Archives (LRC Room 126) for your research needs, for a quiet place to study, or just to say “hi” and see what we’re all about. Our hours are 10am-5pm on Monday’s, Wednesday’s, and Friday’s; and from 10am-7pm on Tuesday’s and Thursday’s.
(This post was written by Stefan Nelson, Senior Archives Student Assistant, a.k.a “Number One”)