The Things we do for Books

During the lifetime of a book, it receives a lot of wear and tear.  When it’s your favorite book, the coffee ring on the cover and the dog-eared corners don’t matter.  Neither do those few pages you may scotch taped just to hold it all together.  But here at the library, when I am doing book mending, I painstakingly glue and finesse the book structure to keep books in good shape or sometimes in hopes of getting just one more circulation out of a well-loved title.

old bookSo when a patron brought us a photocopy of a magazine article from the 1950’s about Paul Hermann Huebner, a West Germany professor who went above and beyond the scotch tape method, we were in awe.

The Professor was a leading figure in  book restoration at the time, and his “Book Restoring Lab” was published in the December 7, 1953 issue of Life magazine.  He would use ultraviolet rays to kill mold, fumigation to kill larvae, poison to kill bookworms, and even hypodermic injections.  He once spent 186 days restoring a 900-year-old Latin manuscript.  Now that is a lot of work!  Another book he worked on received 927 injections keep out the parasites.  Yuck — I don’t even want to think about touching that one.