The Abbey Newsletter

Volume 15, Number 3
May 1991


Books, Boxes and Portfolios: Binding Construction and Design, Step by Step, by Frank Zeier. Translated from the German by Ingrid Li. Tab Books, New York, 1990. $34.95 + $1.60 p&h, from Design Press, Division of Tab Books, Mail Order Dept., 10 E. 21st St., New York, NY 10010; or call Kimberley Martin, Publicity/Advertising 717/794-2191.

Reviewed by Pam Barrios
Assistant conservator, Library Conservation Tab., Brigham Young University.

Frank Zeier states in the introduction to this manual that his aim is to "put back into their rightful place the 'simple' projects such as covered boxes, portfolios, and books..." He writes the book with the beginner in mind, who has no prior training, and specifically for "future industrial arts teachers." He provides valuable exercises such as how to test for paper grain and how to glue up paper, and has a particularly interesting chapter on folding paper into three-dimensional geometric shapes. He includes a brief historical overview of various book constructions. The directions are clear, and the illustrations simply drawn: the tools he uses are those readily available to the amateur or to the teacher of art in an elementary or high school.

The first six chapters succeed very well in providing simple and progressive exercises which teach skills applicable to bookbinding. r, the chapter entitled "The Hardcover Book" intends to cover a great deal of complex material, including: pulling a book; mending tears with tissue; resewing a book on tapes; and repairing a modern cloth case binding. The amateur binder would, at this point, benefit from a discussion of the problems of reshaping and reforming an old or damaged textblock spine, the purpose and convenience of the hollow back, or the importance of a strong board attachment; but the author clearly feels that this information is covered by numerous other bookbinding manuals, and he provides a useful bibliography including some of the best of them. Even with these reservations, this book would serve very well as a preparation for one of the more standard bookbinding manuals.

Modern Simplified Book Repair. Free from Brodart Go., 1609 Memorial Ave., Williamsport, PA 17705. 28 pp.

Reviewed by James W. Mason
Assistant for Collection Development/Preservation Librarian, Kansas State University

The first step in the recovery of water books: "Place books in a warm room."

At the 1991 Tri-Conference of Kansas library associations, I picked up a copy of Brodart's pamphlet Modern Simplified Book Repair from their booth in the exhibit area. Tri-Conference aims many of its programs for school and public librarians, and vendors who exhibit here do likewise, of course.

The 28-page booklet is easy to follow in its presentation of eleven fairly basic repairs. All the materials needed to execute the repairs are available through the Brodart catalog, which also details several of these same procedures. The pamphlet lists catalog item numbers, and for one-stop shopping a repair kit is offered, A glossary and a five-step guide for dealing with water books are included.

The major problem I have with the pamphlet could have been solved with a simple but prominent warning that many of these procedures and most of the materials are to be used only on non-archival, circulating, or expendable books. Without such a warning, -y people may mistakenly use these materials on specialized collections such as documents, local history, and genealogy.

Objectionable materials from a conservation standpoint include:

In Brodart's 1990 catalog, several items are featured as "archival," and pH levels are given. There are two kinds of the Brodart-brand liquid adhesive, one designated as "archival," the other not. The kind without the "archival" label is the one recommended in the book repair pamphlet.

The pamphlet fails to mention:

Other problems are easy for any Abbey Newsletter reader to spot. Many of the librarians who pick up Brodart's guide , however, may not be preservation aware and will just pass the pamphlet on to their library' s book repair staff or volunteers.

Preservation interests are being taken into account by many vendors, whose interest in quality book-repair is encouraging. This attempt could have been worse; it should have been better. It would have been a very simple matter for Brodart to send a draft of the pamphlet to someone experienced with archival book repair for editing.

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