Blog Post: LCLS mends books?

6A common question in libraries is, “If a book is in need of repair what should I do with it?” Please do not tape it back together.   Just let a staff member know it needs attention.  Most likely, you would not be charged for the damages but this is not guaranteed.

Books needing mending are marked for staff to inspect. We look to see how bad the damages are. Then we decide if it would be better to just replace the book or spend time mending it. Many books could have nine lives if mending is done early enough. Some books do go to the book graveyard.

Librarians try to take into account the normal wear and tear on a book.  We regularly weed out books that are getting heavy use.  With each new book order we reorder some that need replaced.

If you notice damage to a book while just browsing or prior to checkout, let the staff know so we can document damages and you will not be charged for them. If you are returning a book with damage, just turn it in at Cards and Accounts desk and notify the staff it needs repair. We also repair CDs and Books on Tape in house.

This will help us all in a few ways. First, books will last longer and cost less, saving the tax dollars we spend.  Second, the books on the shelf will look and function better for your reading enjoyment. Finally, you will no longer be charged for overdue fees just because you were hanging onto a book.    It’s a win-win for us all!

You would be surprised at the wide range of possible repairs to mend a book. We can tack ripped pages, replace loose pages or completely replace a binding in a book to give it a new life.  This is not an archive standard of mending but still very functional. It definitely allows us to circulate the book more.

3Repairs to books are regularly tackled with PolyVinylAcetate glue for book mending and few very simple, but specialized tools. Generally working inside toward outside, a mender will go from individual pages, to signatures, to block and finally hinges and spine inside the cover. A mender will start by inspecting a book to see how bad damage is and what needs attention. Any repairs that require gluing, are pressed in a specific way and left to dry for 24 hours. Sounds like library lingo, right?

2A signature is one bundle of pages sewn together to attach at the binding.   The binding is the string woven in at the spine side of the book holding pages together. Woven bindings are being replaced more and more often by a simpler but more fragile solid glue binding. A book block is the entire book of pages that is without its binding and/or cover.

There is a team of people mending in our library including paid staff and volunteers. For fun, they kept track of how many books they fixed over a period of time. One volunteer working four hours completed repairs on 20 books on average.They figured the replacement cost averaged $8.00 per book. So that mender was saving LCLS about $160.00 each day they worked. Pretty good return for our tax dollars, right?  Thank your volunteers for their fine work. We wouldn’t have as nice a library without them.

4Phil, or Dr. Book as he calls himself, is a volunteer that specializes in mending books that has worked at LCLS for over ten years now.  He has taught classes in Cheyenne and trained numerous employees and volunteers to give a little TLC to our books. He is a patient and thorough trainer who is quick with a joke.

At LCLS, there is only one person on payroll that mends.  I’m that lucky person. I only mend occasionally these days. The remainder of mending is done by Phil and two or three additional volunteers. Phil trained all of us and keeps us on our toes when we work together. He is always trying new methods of repair and likes to show what he has learned. Phil and I often remark on the reward we get in turning a tattered and broken book into a usable and attractive item that can be enjoyed by several more patrons.

~Billie Jo