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Book Mending Materials

Guest Author - Paula Laurita

Information on tools and techniques for this essential task for librarians and others who care for books.

According to perceived wisdom, many of the activities that consume a librarian's time are not covered in Library School. During mine own education the assistant dean asked what courses we would like to see offered during the interim semester (these were mini, one credit courses). The overwhelming response was, "book repair."

I was momentarily surprised. Then I thought back to my volunteer work at the US Military Community Library, in Vicenza, Italy. Knowing that I aspired to being a librarian, the library director had me work in a variety of areas. The most useful tool provided to me was an Army produced video on book repair.

When I entered library school I already possessed this valuable knowledge. I do admit to a lack of experience with rare books. My book first aide has been limited to work with trade books in "public" circulation.

The need for book repair is obvious. Budgets do not allow for nonchalant disposal of bruised books. The damaged book may be out of print, a rare edition, or possess other value. In this article I will not address the unique needs of rare books or manuscripts. The focus will be the books and materials in circulation by the average school, public, or academic library.

Mending materials come in two forms--cheap generic, non-book specific materials, and more expensive, book specific materials. The first type include:

  • Clear Packing Tape
  • Transparent Tape
  • White Glue/Glue Stick
  • Duct Tape
  • Scissors
  • Black Permanent Marker Pen
  • Wax Paper
  • Ruler
  • Nail Polish Remover*

Materials in the latter category often include:

  • Clear Book Tape
  • Page Mending Tape
  • Book Glue
  • Cloth Binding Tape
  • Scissors
  • Black Permanent Marker Pen
  • Wax Paper
  • Bone Folder
  • Nail Polish Remover*

*--This is my personal choice for removing sticky residue left on scissors from the tape.


As you can see there are some things in common, but some items are book specific. Which ones you use will depend upon what type of book you are mending. Is it a paperback copy of a series that will be "unpopular" in a year? Is it a valuable hardback book that is constantly in circulation? These two questions will determine which tools you should use. I keep on hand a combination of the two lists.

Book Mending Methods

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Content copyright © 2014 by Paula Laurita. All rights reserved.
This content was written by Paula Laurita. If you wish to use this content in any manner, you need written permission. Contact Christine Sharbrough for details.

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