Blast From the Past

Twenty years ago when I started working at Duke we had a “morgue” of broken books. This is where damaged books came, and sat, until they could be repaired. Most of these were very brittle or nearly so. To clear the space for work benches and tables, we decided to tie books up with cotton tying tape and insert a flag requesting the book back if it was used.

Today, we got one back!

book tied with string
The Methodist Hymn Book

The flag is two sided. The front alerts the patron to the fact that the binding is fragile. It also asks Circulation to return to book to Conservation after use.

The back explains how to photocopy a fragile book. I created this flag using images from our colleagues at the University of Kansas libraries. Unfortunately the link to that page no longer exists.

It’s fun to see a 20-year-old, low cost and easy solution actually working. The book came back and now we will address it either by repairing the brittle leather cover, or boxing it to keep the detached covers with the text block. This item has been scanned by the Internet Archive, so boxing may be the answer since there will be digital access to it.

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