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

Book Repairs!

Amie Grosshans

I’ve had a busy and fun two weeks of book repairs.  My tasks included rebacking (replacing the spine of a book) and recasing (re-attaching the text block to the book cover).  Both of these repairs were invasive and required cutting into the book.  That definitely scared me at first.  Taking a knife to a book seemed like sacrilege.  I had to remind myself that cutting into the book would not harm it—in fact, it would save the book.  And it did!  The end result of my repairs was book that was fully functional again, and ready to get back into circulation.  I can see how knowing how to do these minor repairs would be beneficial for librarians, because they could fix a lot of book problems without having to spend money buying a new book.  What amazes me is how much book repair is about precision.  It takes a lot of practice to make straight, even cuts, align pages, and trim accurately.  But once you know how to do this, you can make repairs that are almost undetectable.  Repairs can give books a new life, and it’s definitely worth the time and effort it takes to learn this skill. 

Doing these repairs also taught me about how a book is made.  Before this class, I only ever noticed if a book was hardcover or paperback.  Now I realize there is so much more to a book, and knowing what is beneath all of the fabric and boards and glue is pretty cool.  I notice all the differences in the spines, covers, and endpages of books.  Though the basic structure of a book remains the same, there is so much variety in how a book can be made and what materials can be used.  I think that’s really interesting.  I would happily spend another few weeks learning about book repairs if I could.  This week, though, we’re staring photograph repairs, and I’m looking forward to it.