• Lea Martinez

Mending & Repairing Books: Tips and Resources


Ever wanted to help repair or mend a book? Whether it is a kids' favorite or an old family book there are so many ways to mend or repair a book. At the library, we have thousands of books, and after much use, we have to decide whether to keep, mend/repair, or discard a book. Every collection of books, whether it is a household collection or a library collection, goes through use, and at some point, books need to be mended or sent to repair. Evaluating is the first step in the process of whether a book is kept, mended, or discarded. Is the book readily available to purchase from a vendor? Is the book's condition easily repairable? Do you know how to repair it? Is the book an antique and/or has sentimental value? All of these questions must be asked and then the book can be either repaired/mended or discarded.

Books on a shelf waiting to go through repair/mending
Book repair shelf behind the front desk

There are varying degrees for repairing/mending a book - some include just a bit of transparent tape or book tape, others include edging of the book or a loose page. More involved repair/mending includes the book's spine falling apart or separating. Sometimes entire sections of a book come loose. If the book is of sentimental value, precious to your collection, and cannot be replaced I would recommend a professional book repair or rebind of the book - particularly if the cover is not salvageable. There are some limitations on re-binding, however. If the text does not have a margin and runs the entire page it cannot be rebound. Rebinders cut an edge of the margin off and create a new spine for it.

A mending bone being used to secure a book spine
Photo Attribution: mywingsbook on Wikimedia Commons

If the repair needed is small then you can use some handy tips from the internet, or use these tips from us:

-Always use magic tape for mending; never use transparent tape since it tends to discolor pages overtime

-Try to use book glue for those items that you want to keep for a long time. We use liquid plastic adhesive glue.

-If you can, use some sort of bone folder for detailed work and to get seams nice and smooth

-Book tape is a strong tape that can be bought in different sizes. We use the 3-inch width tape for strengthening spines and the inside of book edges.