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  • 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.

-If you are using glue on the inside of a book, use wax paper to ensure you don’t get glue on any other pages. When using glue on the inside make sure to use wax paper on the page before and after, this will make sure the glue doesn’t stray and stick the 2 pages together.

Book repair tools

This is just the tip of the iceberg in mending, please feel free to use the links below to find out more about mending/repair and book restoration.

Vendors of Library repair materials: (supply vendor) (supply vendor)


Useful links:

Basic Book Repair for Libraries:

Local professional book menders/binders:

Sophia Bogle, Oregon

Email Address:

Kim Hoppie, Boise, Idaho (Cannot repair bibles)

Phone Number: 208-867-4001

Email Address:

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