Professional Development

In the 'Book Repair Workshops' Category...

Book Repair Workshop at Mt. Olive College

Monday, March 10, 2014 12:49 pm

Important location in Mt. Olive, NC

On Thursday, March 6, 2014, I taught a Basic Book Repair Workshop at the Moye Library of Mt. Olive College in Mt. Olive, NC. The workshop was sponsored by the NC Preservation Consortium (NCPC). Mt. Olive College is a small, church-sponsored college and they have some of the same collection interests as does ZSR Special Collections and Archives Baptist Historical Collection. The school holds a collection of their religious newspaper, called the Free Will Baptist Advocate, which, like The Biblical Recorder, has roots in the 19th century.

Basic Book Repair Workshop

The workshop was attended by library staff from Campbell University, UNC Wilmington, Davidson, Forsyth County Public Library, ECU, and Mt. Olive College. I am always amazed at howe eager many libraries are for basic information and skills on how they can repair and maintain their collections. It is rewarding to teach these workshops and get this positive response.
We spent the day learning how to tip-in loose pages, use heat-set tissue to repair paper tears, tear and use Japanese paper to repair loose hinges, and replace damaged spines. At the end of the day, we repaired many of the books the attendees brought from their home libraries. This was a fun and useful wrap-up of the day. All-in-all, this was a great workshop.

Basic Book Repair Workshop, Manteo, NC

Sunday, September 26, 2010 3:54 pm

Basic Book Repair Workshop-Manteo

On Friday, September 24, my colleague Rachel Hoff and I taught a Basic Book Repair Workshop at the Dare County Library through NCPC. Rachel and I have been teaching workshops together for over five years and we often find that our teaching styles and knowledge work well together as we present our material. Rachel also helped us present similar material during the recent Preserving Forsyth’s Past grant.

I had a lengthy handout for each of the twelve participants, who came from as far away as Appalachian State in Boone, but also from Duke and libraries in the surrounding area. The information in the handouts was a combination of the history of the book and paper-making, preservation terms and concepts, disaster preparedness and instructional sheets on the techniques I would be presenting.

I began by discussing the value of simply re-housing paper materials in such items as: archival boxes, envelopes and sleeves. An institution without preservation or repair staff can protect their materials easily by simply putting them inside a box or other protective enclosure. I followed this with a progressively complex range of repairs: tipping in loose pages, paper tears, repairing loose hinges with Japanese paper, consolidating paperback books, tightening hinges and spine replacement. We also held a question and answer session. Each class usually comes with unique problems and this provided the attendees with the opportunity to ask these questions.

This was a good class and provided the attendees the chance to learn techniques, tools, suppliers and best practices for repairs. This knowledge will help them as they return to their institution and incorporate repair into their work-flow.

Basic Book Repair Workshop, UNC Charlotte’s J. Murrey Atkins Library

Monday, July 26, 2010 11:53 am

Repair Workshop at UNC Charlotte

Repair Workshop at UNC Charlotte

On Friday, July 23, I taught a Basic book Repair Workshop at UNC Charlotte for 18 attendees from around the region. The attendees came from as far as Duke, Greensboro College, UNC-Charlotte, Johnson & Wales University, Rowan County Public Library and Central Piedmont Community College.
The workshop was hosted by my colleague Katie McCormick, Special Collections Librarian at the Atkins Library. We began the day with a discussion of terms, tools and supplies. I pointed out the key tools used in book repair: a bone folder, micro-spatula, PVA-the adhesive of choice for book repair, and good suppliers to obtain these materials. We didn’t go too deeply into terminology, but I did underscore the concept of using acid-free/archival supplies(pH neutral) in their work to ensure the longest life for the work they do with their books and other materials. We also passed around the ZSR Disaster Plan and talked about the importance of this in libraries. I mentioned some of the disasters we have experienced at ZSR and our response.
Before we actually began work, I also wanted to point out the usefulness of enclosures. For libraries with small budgets and no preservation staff, simply enclosing rare, old or brittle materials is a good way to lengthen their viability. We passed around a series of archival boxes, sleeves and envelopes.
I covered a series of simple repairs from the very basic: tipping-in a loose page to replacing a damaged spine. We also practiced repairing torn pages with heat-set tissue, repairing a broken hinge with Japanese paper, attaching loose signatures, tightening hinges and replacing end sheets.
This information is needed by every library and it is something that is hard to learn by reading a book or online tutorial. You really need someone to demonstrate these techniques. The class was very attentive, laughed politely at my feeble attempts at humor, and all seemed to be pleased at day’s end. The next book repair workshop is scheduled for Manteo in September.

Leather Book Repair Workshop

Monday, July 28, 2008 10:04 am
Conservators toolkitA canvas roll of tools used for book repair

What is the most preferred kind of leather for bookbinding? How do you quickly and easily attach loose boards to a leather volume? What adhesive is most useful for leather book repair applications? Is there an easy way to pare leather without doing it all by hand? These and many other questions were answered for a group of 7 preservationists from across North Carolina last week.On Thursday and Friday, July 24-25, a Leather Repair Workshop was held in the ZSR Preservation Lab. The workshop presenter was Jim Hinz, a Book Conservator at the Conservation Center for Art and Historic Artifacts in Philadelphia. The workshop was sponsored by the North Carolina Preservation Consortium, and was attended by preservationists from NC State, UNC-CH Medical Sciences Library, ECU, UNC-G and Duke. Because of bad weather, the workshop started late because Jim’s flight was canceled. By the time he arrived, however, everyone was more than ready to begin.

Jim began by discussing how leather has been processed and tanned over time, and how light, humidity and temperature fluctuations break leather down. Jim described how, over time, the processing of leather was better or poorer based on market demands and other factors. Today, leather is largely processed by a vegetable tanning process that makes it safe and stable. We then began a demonstration on “tacketing” – a process where a loose board (or cover) is re-attached to the book by sewing through a few locations along the shoulder of the book. This repair is a quick and easy way to the many loose covers of leather-bound books back where they belong. We also toned some Japanese paper with acrylic pigments and let them dry. These strips of paper were toned to match the color of the book’s cover and would be used to repair the broken joint on the outside of the book.

The second day of the workshop began with a discussion of how to hide the repair of the tackets with Japanese paper. We also tore pieces of the toned Japanese paper we had made the day before and covered the broken joint along the outside of the book. The paper blended perfectly because it was toned to the color of the book’s leather and it was a very light weight paper (Tengugo). We then discussed sharpening a paring knife using a sharpening stick (made from laminated board and sandpaper), oil or water stones, emery paper, or a leather strop. Jim demonstrated some sharpening techniques for the class. Following this, we examined various types and colors of leather-mostly calf and goat skins. Jim pointed out the grain and texture differences to the class. The next step was to prepare a book to be re-backed with leather. Starting with a suitable book, Jim lifted a layer of the boards on each side to allow the leather re-back to be inserted. He then applied heavy cord across the spine to simulate raised bands. We were then treated to a leather dyeing demonstration using leather dyes and fixative. Following this, Jim cut a piece of leather for the spine of the book and began paring it. He used a paring knife to pare the edges of the spine piece. The larger areas were pared using a paring machine which pared the leather to a thickness that would be very flexible as the book covers were opened and closed. Everyone got a chance to practice paring using the machine, paring knife and a sanding stick. The leather was then dampened and applied to the spine of the book where Jim expertly turned in the head and tail of the new spine and inserted the edges into the splits in the board. Jim then used a bone folder to reinforce the raised bands along the spine, and tied linen thread over each raised band to dry. The result was beautiful.

The answers to the questions in the first paragraph? goat; tacketing; PVA; and Scharf-Fix Paring Machine.

This workshop was packed with great information that frankly is just too hard to find. for some reason, these repair techniques are kept hidden in the conservator’s world and only trickles out when a knowledgeable and open-minded person like Jim Hinz comes along. I learned so much-not just information, but stiff I can use in my job from now on. That, my friends is invaluable! Another benefit from this workshop was spending 2 days with colleagues across the state who share similar jobs and concerns. I’m hopeful we’ll all be able to collaborate together again soon.

Phoebe Kao, librarian from Tianjin, China, visits Preservation

Monday, July 14, 2008 9:20 am
Phoebe KaoPhoebe Kao holds one of the books she made July 11-12, 2008.

On July 11-12, Phoebe Kao, a librarian from Tianjin International School in Tianjin, China (about 2 hours by train from Beijing) visited Craig Fansler and ZSR Preservation for two days of book repair training. Phoebe found out about Craig and the possibility of book repair training via the NCPC web site. Over several months, we were able to arrive at a good time for her to come to Winston-Salem. During her two days in Preservation, Phoebe made two books (a western case bound book and an eastern stab binding), replaced spines, tipped in pages, repaired paper tears with heat-set tissue and also tackled a wide range of other odd repairs. Many times, a repair isn’t as simple as repairing one thing. Most of the time, it is more complex and require several small repairs to the a book back up and running. Phoebe and I spent a good amount of time discussing decision-making. Looking at the damage and thinking about how to repair this damage might require a little more time than the actual repair. Because a repair is only as good as the materials and technique used, this was time well spent. Another area we discussed was materials and supplies and what suppliers were best for different supplies. We also talked about what repair material to use-or not use-for different repairs: this is super important since many folks new to repairing books don;t have the experience to know. We spent a good deal of time on repairing paperbacks, since much of Phoebe’s collection is paper bound.Phoebe and I worked together to make a case bound book. We went through the steps of cutting large sheets of paper, folding them into 3 sheet signatures, sawing holes in the signatures for sewing, sewing the signatures with linen thread, attaching end sheets to the sewn text block, making a case from binders board that was covered with paper, and attaching the text block to the case to create a book. Making a book from “scratch” is always a special experience and I felt Phoebe was very happy with her book. This was a great experience from my viewpoint because I felt I was giving information and knowledge directly to a person who needed it badly. Service is a key value in the profession of librarianship and I felt this was a two day service venture that was profitable for both Phoebe and myself.

-Craig Fansler


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