Behind the scenes at the University Libraries, there are quite a few things that go into making a book shelf-ready. Occasionally, the physical processing department, in the ground floor of Ellis Library, has to repair books before they can go on (or back on) the shelves for users to check out.
Thankfully, physical processing is staffed with employees who want to teach, and great students who are eager to learn. The physical processing staff is now able to hand more and more work over to dedicated students, giving the students great experience, and freeing up the employees for other projects, such as conservation and preservation.
Two such students are Lydia Dysart and Megan Potter, both student employees in the physical processing department. As you can see from the “before” photo, books often come to physical processing looking . . . less than great. But as you see from the “after” photo, a lot can be done to fix a book. From start to finish, these students were able to complete the project.
When a book is in poor shape, you can’t simply glue it back together. The books that are repaired rarely look like they have been repaired (see the “after” photo) thanks to detailed work. When walking around the physical processing work space, you will see streamers hanging from the wall in all different shades. This is paper used to repair the books, and they want the repair to match the book as closely as possible. It’s intricate work that takes training and detail-oriented people. Thankfully, both Lydia and Megan were up to the task.
As you can see in the before and after pictures, the students have to fix breaks in the book block using rice paper. Then they replace the spine, and, lastly, consolidate and repair the covers. Lydia and Megan did all the spine and cover repairs in the finished repair pictures.
We all appreciate the students who work at University Libraries, and are happy to be able shine a spotlight on some great work! Thank you, Lydia and Megan, for helping to preserve our library’s collection!