This DIY book repair came to the lab recently and Mary thought it would make a good blog entry. Her caption for the image was, “I could have done a better job but I ran out of tape.” We sometimes have to laugh at some of the things we see, but herein also lies a teachable moment.
I tend to believe that most people feel bad when a library book breaks in their hands. They respond by trying to fix it, usually with some sort of pressure sensitive tape. It only takes them a few seconds and it keeps all the parts together.
What our patrons likely do not realize is how time consuming tape removal can be. When I write treatment proposals for projects that involve removing tape and adhesive stains, I generally estimate an hour of labor per inch of tape. Sometimes you get lucky and the carrier pops right off and the residual adhesive and staining is easily removed with a mild solvent. More often the carrier and adhesive comes off and takes the paper, cloth or leather it is attached to with it. This results in even more damage that will need to be repaired, and any remaining adhesive will need to be painstakingly removed either mechanically or chemically.
I’ll talk about how we determine treatment strategies for items like these in a future post. Until that time, if you find that a book falls apart when you use it, please carefully wrap all the pieces in a plastic bag (such as one of our rainy-day bags) and bring it back to the circulation desk. They will send it to conservation for mending.