Student Snippets A Window Into The Daily Life & Thoughts of SLIS Students

All About Paper

Amie Grosshans

This summer, I’m taking LIS 447, Collections Maintenance, and I absolutely love it so far.  There are two parts to the class: the lectures, which explore the topic of the week and show how to do the repairs, and the hands-on part, where we get to do the repairs ourselves.  All of us were mailed a big box with the weekly materials before the class started, which included damaged books, different types of papers, newspapers, magazine ads, archival quality tape, and tissue paper.  We also bought a tool kit from the school bookstore, which included a cutting mat, ruler, retractable knife, paint brush, and other necessities.  I created a designated workspace for myself and laid all the tools and folders on a little table.  It’s been working out great, because it keeps all the tools and materials in one place and I don’t have to constantly pack and unpack all the materials.  I would probably lose something that way!  The first week, we repaired small paper tears with tape and glue, and last week we inserted torn pages back into the book using three different techniques.  The next two weeks will cover book rebacking and recasing.  I’m not sure what the difference between the two is, but I’m looking forward to learning about it.  I love all the hands-on work, not only because it helps me learn, but because it’s fun.  It is precise work, and you need to have a steady hand, but it’s relaxing and meditative.  It’s very satisfying to glue in a perfectly straight page or fix a tear. 

The most interesting thing I’ve learned so far, though, is that I don’t pay very much attention to paper or books.  Both are so common that I don’t really notice them.  But after two weeks of class, my eyes are opened to the many different types of paper and the many different ways that books are put together.  I deal with a lot of paper in my daily life: copy paper, post-its, business cards, receipts, envelopes, and more.  These papers all feel and sound different.  Books, too, are made up of many different types of paper.  A quick study of my bookshelves showed that some paperbacks have different paper than hardcovers or art books.  They are also bound differently, too.  I’ve never looked at the spine, covers, or inside covers of my books closely, but now I can see the differences.  It’s going to be exciting to learn more about why and how books are bound the way they are.