Many archives and libraries face the problem of having damaged books with partially or wholly detached boards that in all other ways are functional. Reattaching the covers or rebinding can be very costly and time consuming. The U-Splint book support (Splint) is a simple alternative being trialled at NSW State Archives to help minimize further damage and support the book structure without the need for costly treatment. The books can still be accessed and can be stored vertically.
Reasons books get damaged
If a book is heavy, large or just plain old, over time the sewing weakens and the text-block has a tendency to slump causing wear and damage to the page edges, stressing the internal endpaper joints and board attachments, and possibly causing covers to detach.
Ideally damaged volumes should be stored flat, no more than two volumes high – but a lack of space does not always permit this.
NSW State Archives prototypes
We have many thousands of damaged books that require a space-efficient vertical storage method that supports the text block and holds detached cover boards, all using a minimal intervention approach to reduce treatment time and cost.
The Splint is a u-shaped, folded-board structure around the book covers with a supporting insert along the tail of the text-block to prevent slumping. Cotton-tape ties keep the housing securely in place. A flange is added to the fore-edge of the Splint to protect the cover edges and any protruding leaves from the tape ties. (Fig 1.)
What you will need
- Cutting edge
- Cutting mat
- Bone folder
- Snap-blade or “Stanley” utility knife
- Archival quality single-wall corrugated board
- White cotton tape – 15mm or wider
- Archival quality synthetic adhesive (e.g. Lascaux, EVA)
- Gummed linen tape – 25mm or wider (must be wider than cotton tape)
Measuring accurately is crucial to the making of any new enclosure (Fig 4)
The dimensions that need to be measured are:
- Maximum height of the book. 10 mm will be added to this dimension to include a small buffer to the book-shoe housing.
- Maximum width – spine joint to fore-edge. 20 mm will be added for the fore-edge flange plus the fold allowance
- Maximum thickness of the book – from the outside of the front board to the outside of the back board.
- The fold or bend allowance. Each fold takes up at least the thickness of the board – measure the thickness of the board and add at least this much to your dimensions (this can be in the region of 3 mm per bend – experiment first with a scrap of board to prevent mistakes).
- The thickness of the text-block – this is for the support Insert
- The length of the text-block – this is for the support Insert
The thickness of the Insert needs to be the size of the book’s squares – this is the space between the end of the text block and the outside edge of the cover (see Fig 4). You may have to laminate two sheets of board together to create the correct thickness.
The dimensions of the Insert are –
Width of insert – E
Length of insert – F
Thickness of insert – size of book’s squares
Once cut, sand all the edges with fine sandpaper.
Archival quality single-wall corrugated board is used as it is sturdy, and easy to cut and fold without need of complex equipment.
Measure and cut a piece of corrugated board to the size that you need according to the dimensions shown in Fig. 5.
Once the piece of corrugated board for the Splint is cut to size, measure, mark, and fold the board according to the following procedures:
- Mark dimension A – the height of the book + 10 mm
- Mark dimension D – the allowance made for the bend or fold
- Using a utility knife carefully cut along the two marked lines and remove the first or top layer of board exposing the corrugated core. The portion removed is the fold allowance. Score the exposed corrugations with a bone folder or remove entirely to assist with folding. (See figure 6)
- Fold inwards towards the cut
- Measure and mark from this fold the thickness of the book (dimension C) and then the allowance for the second fold (dimension D).
- Score, cut and fold again as before.
- Prepare the flange bends at the fore-edge in the same manner.
Sand all the edges with fine sandpaper. The resultant U-shape is folded around the upright shape of the book (see Fig. 1)
The Insert will be adhered in the middle of the u-shape (Fig. 7). The cover boards of the book will slot between the insert and the outside boards of your new u-shaped Splint – check first before adhering that the boards fit comfortably into that slot – you may have to adjust the size of the Insert.
To adhere the Insert in position use a neutral pH acrylic adhesive (preferred), or a neutral double-sided tape. If double-sided tape is used make sure it does not protrude from beneath the insert and come into contact with the book.
Cotton tape holds the Splint in position around the book – a minimum of 2 bands – one near the head and one near the tail. More ties can be added for larger books. Each band of cotton tape is tied at the spine and fore-edge.
We use 12mm cotton tape for the ties anchored to the corrugated board by neutral pH acrylic adhesive and gummed linen tape (must be wider than the cotton tape). The cotton tape length will be the width of the book plus enough over on each end for a generous bow. The gummed tape length will be the width of the Splint plus enough for two turn-ins – one at the spine and one at the flange edge.
- Mark where you intend the ties to be
- Cut slits in the corrugated board for threading the cotton tape
- Flange edge – cut slits on the fold and then again several centimetres in from the flange.
- Spine side – cut slits that mirror the distances on the flange edge.
- Thread the tape through so that it emerges through the flange fold slot to the outside of the Splint. The majority of the tape will be seen on the outside of the housing (Fig. 8)
- Secure the tape with neutral pH acrylic adhesive as you thread it through the slits and along the board
- Apply gummed tape over the cotton tape along the width of the corrugated board and turned in over the edge of the board to the first inside slots (Fig. 9). Wet out and adhere most of the gummed tape up to where it goes over the cotton tape at the edge of the board – make a slit in the gummed tape at this point to pass the cotton tape through, then wet out the remaining gummed tape and adhere to the inside of the board (Figs. 10, 11, 12, 13)
This content was first published on our Archives Outside blog.