Category Archives: Readings

Woven and Interlocking Books

By Rachel Penniman, Conservation Specialist

About 10 years ago I visited Claire Van Vliet at her Janus Press studio space in Newark, Vermont with another conservation intern. Claire was incredibly kind, spending all afternoon showing us around and talking about her work. At the end of the visit she gave us each a copy of her book Woven and Interlocking Book Structures as a parting gift.

Front cover of Woven and Interlocking Book Structures

I rediscovered this book on my shelf a few weeks ago when I hit my limit on Zoom meetings and was desperate to return to doing some hands-on work. And what a sanity saver it has been! I’ve taken time every day to step away from my computer and work my way through each of the structures.

Image of work bench, laid out with tools and materials.

The book provides instructions for creating a sample of more than a dozen woven or interlocking book structures that are easy enough for anyone to do at home. The samples are small, only 4×5” and just a few pages long. Construction requires a few simple tools: a pencil, ruler, cutting blade, scissors, scoring tool/bone folder, awl/needle, glue, and a microspatula which was not required but “worth getting because you’ll wonder how you lived without it.” While nicer paper or a variety of papers would make more interesting finished samples, you really only need cover stock and text weight papers. Still, I had to make do with the paper I had on hand at home. Sometimes I had to use scraps of paper with the grain direction going the wrong way or that wasn’t quite the correct weight. But in the end I was able to successfully create a sample of every structure.

(Click each image to enlarge)

There are even instructions at the end of the book to create a lovely little slipcase to house your entire sample set of books.

Book in slipcase

If you would like to create your own sample set of woven and interlocking book structures you can access the entire book online for free through Internet Archive:

Reading Roundup

Another installment of articles, books, etc., that have caught my attention.

God’s Librarians: The Vatican Library enters the twenty-first century” by Daniel Mendelsohn (New Yorker, Jan. 3, 2011) explores the renovations and history of the “Vat.”

The Flip Side: The secrets of conserving the wood behind an early masterpiece” by Peter Schjeldahl (New Yorker, Nov. 29, 2010) investigates the Ghent Altarpiece and it “six centuries of tumultuous history.” Both of the New Yorker articles are only readable online in their entirety if you have a subscription. I’m sure your local library subscribes.

The ALA Presidential Task Force on Traditional Cultural Expressions (TCEs) will be presenting its final report to ALA Council on Monday, January 10, during ALA Council II, which meets from 10:00am-11:30am

The Visual Miscellaneum by David McCandless explores better ways to represent complicated statistics and information. What could you do with your yearly ARL stats following this model? think of the possibilities.

The Pleasures and Sorrows of Work by Alain de Botton. My favorite modern philosopher tackles the issue of working for a living. From his own description on Amazon:

“The strangest thing about the world of work is the widespread expectation that our work should make us happy. For thousands of years, work was viewed as something to be done with as rapidly as possible and escaped in the imagination through alcohol or religion. Aristotle was the first of many philosophers to state that no one could be both free and obliged to earn a living.” -Alain de Botton

If you haven’t read any of de Botton’s work I will recommend two others: The Consolations of Philosophy and Status Anxiety. Both offer thought provoking philosophical romps that are surprisingly readable and actually useful for navigating our modern society.

And finally, because it is the new year and I’ll be the first to support your resolutions to eat better, and the first to offer you something to kill off that resolution if you need an excuse, I give you Southern Pies by Nancie McDermott. This follows her popular Southern Cakes, which in my opinion should also be on your shelf.

Happy New Year to all and to all good reading!

What Month Is It?

In October we gather ourselves together to celebrate all that is good and important, like the North Carolina State Fair and All Hallows Eve. But did you know that among other celebrations October is:

American Archives Month
National Medical Librarians Month
National Cybersecurity Awareness Month
National Graphic Novel Writing Month
National Arts and Humanities Month
National Book Month
National Breast Cancer Awareness Month
National Dental Hygiene Month
National Fire Safety Month

What are you celebrating this month?

Image from the Duke University History of Medicine Collection exhibits website.

Reading Roundup

I’m starting a recurring blog post called “Reading Roundup” to share some reading that you may find interesting. These links will be at least tangentially related to books, preservation, conservation and libraries. Here is the first installment. Enjoy!

The Devil’s Tale “Celebrates Banned Book Week.” Share your banned book story with them.

The Chronicle of Higher Education asks whether digitized books “feel like a library” in “Digitizing The Personal Library.”

Also in The Chronicle of Higher Education, “What Are Books Good For” questions when books became the enemy.

In The Library With A Lead Pipe (one of my favorite library blogs) ponders how to collect meaningful data about our instruction efforts in their post “Articulating Value in Special Collections.”

Parks Library Preservation at Iowa State has a nicely written ode to Carolyn Harris and Paul Banks, leaders in our field. Read “Thank you Paul and Carolyn, et al,” Then tell your favorite teacher or mentor how much they mean to you.

And finally over on Work of the Hand , our former staff member and student, Henry Hebert, is blogging about what he is learning in the book binding program at the North Bennett Street School this semester.

Image from Duke University Libraries Ad Access, click on image for details.

Preservation Goes Social

These little things called blogs are really catching on in preservation-land. Preservation Underground was one of the first library preservation department blogs out there. Now we are finding ourselves in some very good company. To celebrate the spread of library preservation through this thing we call the internet, I want to point you to some other blogs you may find interesting.

Preservation and Conservation Administration News (check out their blog roll)

Parks Library Preservaiton (Iowa State University)

Preservation @ ZSR (Wake Forest)

Preservation Beat (University of Iowa)


IUL Preservation Lab (Indiana University)

Feel free to add more to this list, we’d love to give everyone their 15 minutes. There are a few departments using Flickr and FaceBook, too, although we are still one of the few. Thanks for reading!

Image from Duke University Libraries digital collection Ad Access.