NOTES FROM PRESERVATION
"BINDING." Whenever I hear the word, I think of Greek mythology's
Prometheus, a man bound tied and chained to the side of a bolder,
where birds pecked at him daily. Binding is a daily routine. Almost
every book in a library comes or becomes bound so patrons can peck at
What really is binding? Think of a bound book as you would a'person,
say Prometheus. Every person has a backbone to support flesh and skin to
cover it. Similarly, every bound book has leaf-attachment to hold pages
together and a case to cover it. Binding is leaf-attachment and casing-in.
Cases have traditionally been made of stiff cardboard, leather and
bookcloth, but have also been made of wood, plastic, paper, and skin,
even human skin. A case protects a book from damage resulting from use,
but isn't essential to bookbinding. Moreover, casing-in in no way binds
pages into the form of a book.
Leaf-attachment refers to the methods by which pages are attached or
bound together. Whereas a case protects a book, leaf-attachment creates
the book. Like chains, i.e., threads and staples. Modern biAding methods
have also utilized plastic and metal posts, rings and spirals; nails; nuts
and bolts; and glue. The method of leaf-attachment is as varied as the
materials. In future Preservation Notes, you'll get tied up with sewing-
(and stapling-) through-the-fold (a.k.a., Smyth-sewing), side sewing
(a.k.a., stab sewing), side wire stiching, side-lacing, side saw-kerf sew-
ing, spiral binding, post binding, oversewing, and adhesive binding.
You'll get to know the advantages and disadvantages of each method.
Finally, we'll work toward brown-bag workshops in which you'll actual-
ly learn how to bind a book.
What's the point of this? The Preservation Office believes that the
more you know about how a book is made, the better you will know how to
handle it. Better handling, of course, extends the life of the book. Be-
sides, bookbinding can be fun! That helps us, the Libraries, and, one
hopes, you too. We're beginning with the basics so we'll all be speaking
the same language as we attempt to describe a book.
For further information, see:
Rebsamen, Werner. "A Study of Simple Binding Methods." (Published
in five parts.) Library Scene, 1979-1980. For you convenience, the parts
have been compiled by and are available from the Preservation Office.