Book mending is one of my favorite jobs at the library. I love to mend tears and glue pages back in place. It’s calm, quiet work and it makes me feel good to know that I’m helping a book get back on the shelves so it can be checked out again. I’ve been doing small repairs for a while now, but I still have a lot to learn.
Books are often returned with rips and tears (especially children’s’ books) or a broken spine. These sort of problems are inevitable when you consider the number of times a book is checked out. Another problem, which is more common on a rainy day, is water damage. What do we do in this situation? Iron the book, of course!
How to iron a book
1. Turn the iron on (our iron has a “dry” setting and a “steam” setting. I turned the iron on the highest dry setting).
2. Flip through the book and determine where the damaged pages are. Sometimes there will only be a section of pages affected. Other times, someone will accidentally spill tea on a book, causing the tops of every page to be slightly buckled (…that may have been me. It was a good opportunity to learn how to iron a book, at least!)
3. Open the book from the back and iron the right hand page. If you work from the back, the heat from the iron will press down and help to smooth out the pages you’ve already ironed.
4. Working from back to front, iron all affected pages. BE CAREFUL TO MOVE THE IRON AROUND AND NOT LEAVE IT ON THE PAGE FOR TOO LONG! (For obvious reasons). Also, be careful when using the iron. While smoothing down the newly pressed pages, I was surprised at how hot they were. If the cover of the book has a plastic cover, either remove it, or place something over it so you don’t accidentally iron it.
5. If necessary, leave the book fanned open to cool off.
I have only attempted to iron books a couple of times, and I think it works better if you try it soon after the book has been damaged (after the pages have completely dried). Today’s book patient had been sitting on the mending shelf for a while, and the results were not as good as my first attempt.
So, if you accidentally spill something on a favorite book, or it gets left out in the rain, give book ironing a try!
(Thank you to Marie Davis for showing me this trick 🙂 )