Book Repair: A Pressing Matter

By Lauren Amundson and Jeff Pickens

In August, we were fortunate enough to have one of our longtime donors, Barbara Robinson, spend a week doing book repair for us. It was a fascinating process to watch and learn about. Barbara has been doing book restoration for 30 years. Before her arrival, we ordered supplies including bookcloth, PVA glue, “super” binding material, and a book press. She set up a workspace in the Putnam Collection Center, selected books from our collections that needed some TLC, and got to work.

The process for repairing a book involves several steps. The first is to remove the original cover.

The next step is to create inner book pages using grained book paper.

Barbara then creates and joins the new cover. She uses book cloth for this process.

Now it’s time to assemble the book into its cover.

Barbara then puts the finished book in the book press to dry. This takes about 24 hours.

And voilĂ ! Excluding the final book press step, it takes about one hour to repair a book.

For a more detailed step-by-step process and additional photos, check out this pdf guide to book repair and restoration.