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Library Student Employee Information: Anatomy of a book/Basic book terms

Communicating About Books and Other Materials

How to Talk About Books for Repair

When sending books for repair, many times the problem is obvious. When a cover is detached, a repairing technician can diagnose that easily. However, if a page is torn midway through the book, that might be more difficult to discover. Therefore, when sending an item for repair, attached to that item a brief description of the problem and the date discovered.

Some examples of descriptions, using the appropriate terminology:

  • The text block is loose.
  • Page 296 has large horizontal tear.
  • Page 296 is detached.
  • Strange smell.
  • Mold in last ten pages.

These sorts of notes can help speed repairs!

Non-Book Materials

It's Not Just Books

Northern Illinois University circulates a number of items that aren't bound codices, i.e., books. Notably, the library offers laptop checkout, as well as a number of other technology pieces. This article describes a number of the items that libraries can offer in addition to traditional books. NIU may now or eventually offer some, any, or all of these, or more. And these might also be damaged as part of their circulating life.

When non-book materials come in damaged, it might be appropriate to send these to Technical Services, and might be more appropriate to send them to DoIT. Consider these questions to help make a determination about who should deal with it:

  • Is it made of paper?
  • Does it run electricity?
  • Is it the paper part that's damaged?
  • Is it an electricity-processing part that's damaged?

Glossary terms

GLOSSARY of BOOK TERMS by Lisa Fisher

  • Book, Contents or Textblock: The pages that make a book. In a hardcover book the text block is glued to a cover using the super, headbands and end sheet paper. In a softcover book, the text block is glued directly to the spine of the cover.

  • Buckram: A heavy weave of binding cloth used in repairs of spines.

  • Cambric or Super: The cloth that reinforces the hinges, pasted directly to the body of a book and hidden by the spine. Also referred to binder’s mull or crash.

  • Case or Casing: The covers enclosing a book, usually made of thick cardboard, and normally covered in cloth, paper, or leather.

  • Contents or Textblock or Book: The pages that make a book. In a hardcover book the text block is glued to a cover using the super, headbands and end sheet paper. In a softcover book, the text block is glued directly to the spine of the cover.

  • Edges: The three outer sides of the text block when a book is closed: fore-edge, top edge or head, and bottom edge or foot.

  • Foxing: Brown spots thought to be caused by impurities in paper (e.g.: acid, exposure to humidity, etc.). Foxing is more likely to be encountered in older books. This may be mistaken for mold. Book mender needs to review and assess item.

  • Hinges: The area where the sides of the binding meet the spine (interior) of a book.

  • Misshapen book or cover: When the book and cover are not square, it is said to be a spine slant.

  • Pages or Pagination: The numbering of the pages correctly within a book.
  • Pastedown: The part of the endpapers that is pasted to the inside of the front and rear covers.

  • Rebacked: This repair to a book is undertaken when the original spine needs repair and/or needs to be replaced. If the original spine or backstrip can be salvaged, it might be glued down on the new spine. The result of the latter is found in bookseller’s catalogs thus: “Rebacked, with the original spine laid down (or laid on).” Can be considered a defect, i.e., there is original material that has been lost. However, an expertly repaired volume enables the book to be back in circulation.

  • Rebound: When a book has been rebound, a commercial binder provides a new cover because the original cover is damaged and cannot be reused for a recase.

  • Recased: This repair is required when the textblock has come loose from the cover. In a hardcover book the text block is glued to a cover using the super, headbands and end sheet paper. In a softcover book, the text block is glued directly to the spine of the cover. In NIU's mending, we take the book apart and put it back together using as much of the original book cover and endpapers as possible to keep integrity of the original book.

  • Shaken: The text block is loose in its binding; no longer tight, but not detached.

  • Spine: The backbone, or back, of the book where the title (if present) is displayed when standing upright on a shelf. Hinges or joints beginning to show signs of tearing, either through wear or defective binding.

  • Super or Cambric: The cloth that reinforces the hinges, pasted directly to the body of a book and hidden by the spine. Also called by binders Mull or crash.

  • Textblock or Book or Contents: The pages that make a book. In a hardcover book the text block is glued to a cover using the super, headbands and end sheet paper. In a softcover book, the text block is glued directly to the spine of the cover.