The restoration of books is a dedicated craft that focuses on the preservation of historical and even personal materials that are printed on parchment, paper, leather or other similar forms.

Why is there a need to restore books?

The main reason to restore books is to preserve the valuable information held within. In the olden days, writers and scholars did not have the capabilities to write or print information in materials that will last forever. This means the information written in ancient manuscripts, books, and other materials might be lost over time.This is something that we should keep from happening because these materials hold important information about our past. We learn a lot about our history by studying how these ancient materials were created. It is one of the best ways that we can understand why we have evolved to what we are today.

What causes a book to need restoration?

There are many reasons why the restoration of books is needed.

  • Inherent Vice. This refers to the quality of a material that is naturally difficult to maintain. That means some of the materials used in the past are really not meant to last long. It may be because they did not feel the need to preserve them or maybe they did not know better – we will never really understand their choices. The early paper was usually handmade – which was actually quite durable but hard to do. When paper started to be made by machines, we chose options that were less expensive – but not as durable. These are the materials that usually need to be restored every now and then.
  • Pests. Sometimes, insects and vermin contribute to the deterioration of books. Since paper is made of cellulose and starch, these are used by pests for their protein intake.
  • Environmental elements. Harsh temperatures and exposure to the elements can cause the deterioration of books. If a book is damaged by water, it can be hard to restore. But even the simple exposure to the sun can cause damage. Air exposure can also lead to the development of molds.
  • Poor handling. Finally, poor handling can cause the need for the restoration of books. This includes poor storage, improper use of books, writing on the pages, frequent opening, etc.

Techniques used to restore books

There are many techniques used to restore book.

  • Cleaning of the surface. Sometimes, a simple dusting will make it look better.
  • Removing of molds and insects. This includes the removal of residues or insect accretions.
  • Removing of adhesive. Some adhesive cause damage to paper and this has to be removed and replaced.
  • Spraying or immersing in alkaline. This helps make the paper more durable.
  • Mending or filling. If the paper or cover is torn, it oftentimes needs to be mended.
  • Sewing and rebinding. This is used to repair the cover or binding of the book.
  • Backing. If the paper used is brittle, it might need backing to make it stronger and more durable.
  • Flattening. Rolled materials are more prone to damage when it is handled. Keeping these materials flat prevents it from happening as it is handled.

These are the various techniques used in the restoration of books. The choice will depend on how severe is the need to repair the books and how the books are expected to be handled in the future.