StaffGuide: Preservation

Preservation information and resources

Spine Repair

This is the most frequent repair to be seen in Preservation. Often the spines are detached in one or more points along the joint on the outside of a book. This not only compromises the structure of the book, but also makes it very difficult to know which book it is! A variety of methods can be used to fix a broken or detached spine.

books with loose spines next to supplies to glue them back on

Paper Repair

Some pages with tears or losses can be repaired with Japanese tissue paper and wheat starch paste. This process takes a few days to ensure the paste has dried and flattened appropriately.
Setup for repairing a page tear:

paper repair flat lay, including paste, brush, bone folder, blotter paper, japanese tissue


Pages with tissue repairs under weights to facilitate drying and flattening:

paper repairs with weights to facilitate flattening

Hinge Repair and Tightening

Similar to replacing endsheets, hinge tightening helps resecure the bookblock to the case, but only along one interior joint called a hinge. This is usually because the fold line of the endsheet has torn or detached completely. Linen 'tape' is used to secure the bookblock to the case with four points of strength along the spine instead of its original two.
Example of a broken hinge:
broken hinge front cover
Hinge repair using Japanese tissue:
hinge repair with Japanese tissue

Surface Cleaning

Paper or books with dirt, dust, or other abrasive particles are cleaned using a variety of sponges, HEPA vacuums, and sometimes more specialized tools. This is often called 'dry cleaning' due to the lack of water used.
Example of papers with dirt and debris to be evaluated for surface cleaning:

dirt and dust that has accumulated on sets of folded papers stored in cardboard box


Dirt is visible on the left edge of the page before cleaning (left photo), and it is gone after cleaning (right photo):

page with dirt on left edge      page with no dirt on left edge

Adhesive Removal

Tape (all kinds), animal glue, Post-it notes, and other sticky substances cause inevitable problems for paper objects. They discolor the paper as they age, weaken its structure, and can be difficult to remove completely.
Supplies for removing dried adhesive from a spine:

Replacing Endsheets

Sometimes bookblocks become completely detached from the case and need to be sewn and glued back into the case. This is a lengthy process involving removing old pieces and sewing.

Endsheets and textblock removed from book cover:


With new endsheets pasted in:

new endsheets in open book

Cloth Ties

If book boards (covers) are loose or detached, or an item has loose pages, it may be treated with cloth ties. Unbleached cotton tying tape holds all pieces of an item together and provides stabilization. The cloth is dye-free to prevent any bleeding of tape to item.

cloth ties around books

Sometimes items are tied together until they are ready to be repaired. In some cases, items will be placed on the shelf with ties because it is the most appropriate solution (e.g., it's the most economical, the item is low-use).

Once a volume is tied, we place an information sheet under the ties on the front cover; it instructs the user how to handle the item.