Library staff and volunteers were recently given a training day by Book Conservator Caroline Bendix. By the end of the day we had learned many skills that we can apply to protect the books that we have within the College library. The morning session was devoted to cleaning books and making phase boxes. Phase boxes proved to be a bit tricky with all the cutting, folding and measuring that is involved to ensure that each box is cut exactly to fit each individual book. Our gallant team of Thursday morning volunteers have now mastered the technique and are making some excellent phase boxes to protect the soft backed books in the Mackenzie Collection.
Caroline selected some of the rare books to explain about the history and provenance of bindings. We were as thrilled as she was that the College library has such a fine selection of bindings.
In the afternoon we learned some basic repair techniques and the correct way to tie book tape. For those who instinctively tie a granny knot (the correct type of bow for book tape) life was easy – they didn’t have to learn anything new. However, things proved to be a little more difficult for those who would normally tie a bow using a reef knot as they had to master the technique of a granny bow. We will now ensure that books with loose boards that require book tape have tape both at the top and bottom of each volume (we have tended up until now only to use tape round the middle of the volume).
The day finished by Caroline demonstrating hollow spine repairs. She explained that the spines of books with hollow backs which are partially detached can be given a temporary repair which will not interfere with the opening of the book. Although tricky, the finished result looked excellent. We all now feel far more confident in looking after the College’s historical books.