how to repair damaged children's books

May 31, 2012

Last week, I asked a question about how you repair damaged books in your home. I didn't get too many responses, but I thought I'd sum up my rather unscientific findings and what I've learned over the past few days.

1. A lot of you (like me) use tape to quickly patch up a torn page or to reinforce an old binding.

2. Librarians and people in the business of book repair have very strong feelings AGAINST using tape to repair books.

The reasons against it are compelling. See exhibit A above.

Over time, regular tape will turn brown and the chemicals in the adhesive will become a part of the paper. At that point, it will no longer stick and hold the pages together, but will just peel right off leaving a brown stain behind.

AND (the biggest problem) it will no longer hold the ripped page together.

This is a very well-loved copy of Richard Scarry's Cars and Trucks and Things That Go that belonged to Ben when he was a kid. Juliet inherited it and has loved reading it as well. I'd guess this tape has been on here for about 15 to 20 years at this point...just so you can see what your taped books have in their future.
Here's the conclusion I have come to about the whole tape issue: it's probably best to NOT use regular old scotch tape to repair my favorite books. Mostly because I have hopes of passing them down to my grandchildren one day. 

However, if you don't intend to keep them for that long (and there are several books that I have that I won't be holding onto once my kids grow out of them), then tape is an okay option in a pinch.  It will hold the page together for the short term...
I found some Scotch Book Tape on amazon that is made specifically for books (I am guessing it is archival quality and won't turn yellow or lose adhesive with age). I also found out that they sell this at a local Office Max. It's reasonably priced and seems like the right choice for booklovers such as ourselves. 

So, from now on, I think I'll be using this book tape to repair my books. 

There are several different brands and options of book repair tape available. I'd love to hear from any of you librarians what you recommend. 

Any more book-repair knowledge to share with me? I'd also like to hear if there are any methods for preventing damage---like the best way to reinforce or protect a book's cover, etc. 

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