It’s Spring Break, the perfect time for a little sprucing up of our collection! Earlier this week, the Creekside team hosted another Mending Party. This time, we worked on pages.
Why pages? When repairing a book, we follow an order of operations. First, we make any repairs to the “text block,” the printed pages. Second, we work on repairs to the “case,” or cover. Finally, repairs are made where the text block and the case attach. So, pages are the perfect place to start building book-mending skills. Additionally, tears and torn-out pages are very common in library books.
Why do pages tear?
- Age: Paper becomes brittle over time. Ever wonder why expensive paper is advertised as “acid-free?” Acids break down paper fibers, causing them to yellow and become brittle. Acid-free papers have a longer lifespan. Books printed before the 1930’s used particularly acidic paper processes, so they are prone to tearing and breakdown.
- Use: Pages tear when books circulate. This is simply the nature of a circulating collection!
- Sticking material in books: Pages tear when inappropriate materials such as post-it notes, pencils, rulers, etc; are tucked into library books.
Torn book with mending materials
How to fix torn pages:
To fix a tear, you can use either glue or archival tape. Using tape is easier, though it runs the risk of making the repair stronger than the page around it, leading to more potential tears. We’ll outline both methods below.
For glue, make sure you are using an acid-free, transparent adhesive. PH neutral PVA works well.
For tape, choose an acid-free mending tape. We use filmoplast P, which is a tape made from very thin paper. Though it may be tempting, never use packaging tape or non-archival clear tape. Non-archival tape can ruin the page.
Using archival tape:
- Align the tear. Pay attention to how the tear was made, and realign the tear so that the paper fibers match up. At the Mending Party, we called this “getting in the mind of the tear.”
- Prepare your tape. Most tears do not require the full width of a piece of tape, so we cut the tape in half and used thinner strips. Try not to touch the sticky part of the tape—the oil from your fingers makes for a messy repair.
- Press the tape onto the tear. Use short pieces of tape in order to match the curves of the tear.
- If the tear runs to the edge of the page, cut off any extra tape rather than folding it over.
- Run a bone folder (or credit card) over the tape to smooth it.
Mending with archival tape makes the tear practically invisible. Can you see it?
- Align the tear. This is especially important while using glue, as you want to put the glue only on the parts of the tear that touch each other.
- Place a piece of waxed paper behind the page you are repairing. This will prevent you from accidentally gluing your book together.
- Brush a thin layer of glue onto the overlapping area of the tear.
- Press down lightly to fuse the paper together. Wipe off any extra glue with a light cloth (cheesecloth works well).
- Place another sheet of waxed paper on top of the repair and close the book to let dry.
Mending a tear with glue and waxed paper
Of course, if your book is from a library, it’s best to let the experts handle any repairs. Still, mending torn pages can come in handy to fix up used books or repair your own collection.
Thanks to everyone who came to the Mending Party! We had a great time learning how to bring torn pages back to life.