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Three Basic Book Repair Procedures - 1

By Carole Dyal and Pete Merrill-Oldham

Hinge Tightening I
Hinge Tightening II
Tipping-In Loose Pages
Conclusions - References

In libraries large and small, minor repair is a critical component in overall efforts to care for collections of books and journals. Bound volumes mended as soon as they show signs of damage may never require more complex repair or binding. A book with tightened hinges is sometimes more sturdy after treatment than it was at the time of purchase.

Following are instructions for carrying out three basic cost-effective procedures for repairing hard-cover volumes. They were prepared to accompany all-day demonstrations presented at the 1998 Annual Meeting of the American Library Association in Washington, DC. The Library of Congress generously offered space in the LC exhibit booth in support of this pilot project. It focuses on early intervention as a means of delaying or eliminating the need for more time consuming and expensive treatment.

This project was made possible through generous support from Acme Bookbinding (Charlestown, MA), Bridgeport National Bindery (Agawam, MA), Conservation Resources International (Springfield, VA), Gaylord Bros. (Syracuse, NY), Information Conservation Incorporated and the Etherington Conservation Center (Brown Summit, NC), the Library Binding Institute (Edina, MN), Library Binding Service (Des Moines, IA), Ocker & Trapp Library Bindery (Emerson, NJ), SOLINET (Atlanta, GA), and University Products (Holyoke, MA).

Hinge Tightening I

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Inspect the hinge of the volume at the head and tail to see if the text block has become loose in its case. If the endpapers are pulling away from the inside of the case but are still securely attached to the text block, Hinge Tightening I may be an appropriate treatment. If neglected, a text block that has become loose in its case is likely to sustain additional damage each time it is used until the binding fails altogether.

Materials required

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Assemble the following: polyvinyl acetate adhesive (PVA) in a tall thin container, knitting needles or plastic rods of various thickness, waxed paper, and a bone folder. A book press and metal-edged boards (or appropriate substitutes) will also be needed.

Step 1: Applying adhesive in the hinge

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Stand the book on its tail. With one hand, prop open the loose hinge as wide as possible. Dip the knitting needle into the adhesive, scraping excess adhesive off as you draw the needle out of the container. Push the needle into the hinge as far as it will go, using a twirling motion. Apply the adhesive thoroughly to the exposed area. Turn the book on its head and perform the same procedure if needed at this end as well.

Step 2: Preparing for pressing

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Lay the book flat and align the text block squarely in its case. Open the cover part way, and using the long edge of the bone folder, gently press the fold of the endpaper into the hinge. Insert a sheet of waxed paper as far as possible back into the hinge. This will prevent excess adhesive from sticking to the endpaper and assure proper opening of the book after drying.

Step 3: Setting the hinge

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Check to make sure that the text block is still square in its case. Then run the long edge of a bone folder down the length of the outer hinge of the case, applying even pressure.

Step 4: Pressing the book using plain boards

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Press the book for several hours or over night, making sure that even pressure is applied in the joints. This can be accomplished using thin, rigid boards (Masonite, for example), appropriately sized knitting needles, and about 10 lbs. of weight. Select two needles that fit in the joints and are slightly thicker than the covers. Align the needles, sandwich the book between the boards, and apply weight.

Step 4: Pressing the book using metal edged boards

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Metal-edged boards eliminate the need for knitting needles because one edge of each board is fitted with a metal strip that overhangs the board approximately 1/8" on each side. The resulting flange fits into the joint of a book and, under weight, exerts even pressure along it.

Step 4: Pressing the book in a book press

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The easiest and most efficient means of pressing is to use a book press and metal edged boards. This traditional equipment facilitates careful control of pressure.


This publication is not copyrighted. Please photocopy and distribute as you wish. Printed copies are available for the cost of handling and mailing: single copy: $2.50; additional copies: $1.50 each. Please make checks payable to "Book Repair," Acme Bookbinding.". (Mailing address: "Book Repair"; c/o Acme Bookbinding; P.O. Box 699; Charlestown, MA 02129-0004).

 link to Bonefolder Extras & link to Bonefolder


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