The Fix: Spine Covering Repair

Older hardcover books within the Smithsonian Libraries’ circulating collections often contain unique information which serve staff and patrons over the course of many years.  With age and use, these items sometimes begin to break along the hinges. The book cloth becomes frayed, torn, or cracked and the spine piece may separate completely from the boards. This damage necessitates a repair which will conserve and recreate the original binding structure as much as more »

Fixing a Fold-Out Plate

Fold-out plates are often used to feature important illustrations or diagrams in many books related to science, technology, and history. Though a fold-out is designed to be frequently folded and unfolded, the stress on the creased fold lines from constant handling often causes the paper to break.

Museum Day Live: Exploring Careers in Libraries and Preservation

In anticipation of Smithsonian Libraries’ participation in this year’s Museum Day Live events on Saturday March 12th, we wanted to highlight Library Preservation work at the Book Conservation Lab here at Smithsonian Libraries, and draw attention to the varied interests and skills that are inherent to Preservation work and are important and driving forces in preserving library collections for the future.

The trials and tribulations of post binding repair

The Book Conservation Lab often receives items that require new sewing or new adhesive on the text block as part of their treatment. Infrequently, an item arrives that has been bound atypically and extraordinary repair measures are needed.

A Typical Case of Repair Work

Many books within the various general collections of the Smithsonian Libraries arrive at the Book Conservation Lab in need of similar treatment. Though the several collections in the Natural History Museum Libraries are largely filled with science related items, some reveal aspects of the natural world through artistic and literary presentations. Recently, a book of this type, entitled The Poetry of Nature, selected and illustrated by Harrison Weir and published in 1868, more »

The Fix – The Art of Camouflage

This post was written by Vanessa Haight Smith, Head of Preservation Services.  Japanese paper is used for many applications in book and paper conservation and I often choose this material when reattaching weak or detached boards.  The practice of toning Japanese paper hinges for reattaching boards to leather bindings, promoted by conservator Don Etherington, is widely used in the field.

The Fix: Binding Waste

This post was written by Vanessa Haight Smith, head of Preservation Services. When repairing older books, the Smithsonian Libraries conservators occasionally uncover evidence of recycling by the original bookbinders.  Paper from damaged and discarded volumes was frequently used when binding new books.  Why use a new, clean sheet of paper when a leftover scrap would work just as well?

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