The Abbey Newsletter

Volume 8, Number 1, Pt. 2
Feb 1984


The Preconference in L.A.

Special Supplement on Library Binding

What has been referred to as the PLMS Binding Preconference and was officially called "Library Binding: Covering it All" took place last June in Los Angeles, on two days immediately preceding the annual conference of the American Library Association. At this preconference, librarians and binders made notable progress in dealing with long- standing problems in the relationship between these two groups.*

The program was sponsored jointly by the Serials Section and the Preservation of Library Materials Section (PLMS) of ALA's Resources and Technical Services Division. All but one of the librarians who spoke were from college or university libraries. Seven representatives of the library binding industry gave papers. The Library Binding Institute (LBI) gave a reception for the librarians, and library binders contributed in several ways to support of the conference.

Besides panel discussions, a bindery tour and three workshops on types of materials and their binding needs, there were 10 presentations, among them:

R. Gay Walker and Mel Kavin - Book Structures, Binding Procedures, and Terminology

Stephen H. Roberts - Services Offered by Library Binders Barclay W. Ogden and Jan Merrill- Oldham - Selection, Specification, and Inspection of Library Binding

Paul A. Parisi - Methods of Affixing Leaves: Options and Implications

John F. Dean - Binding and Preserving Alternative Formats - An Introduction

Don Etherington - Conservation Services Offered by Library Binders

Approximately 85 persons participated in this preconference, including bindery managers (18%), library conservation specialists (23%), and preservation librarians (59%). The presentations were exceptionally well prepared and based on extensive experience and insight. For the practitioner of library preservation the preconference provided an educational and thought- provoking experience.

One of the preoccupations of the preconference was the matter of options for "affixing leaves." Increasingly, foldless publishing and small- margined publishing are limiting use of the options of through- the- fold sewing and oversewing. Oversewing is also now recognized to be damaging for the rebinding of weak text papers and also to interfere with the increasingly common practice of photocopying. Most of the preservation librarians present agreed that oversewing should be used as a technique of last resort: if folds were present, the book should be sewn through the fold; if margins were narrow, adhesive binding was indicated; ii the old sewing was good, it should be saved. Library binders at the preconference realized that a move away from the oversewing option is called for, although the 1981 LBI Standard for Library Binding specifies only oversewing and sidesewing. (Sewing through the fold and adhesive binding are classed as optional methods and described in an appendix.)

The importance of patterns of use as a starting point for rebinding specification was also explained. Problems arising from a disregard of usage were described. For example, conventional Class "A" serials rebinding can only occur after the initial period of greatest use and loss risk, while the rebinding expense is unjustified by the subsequent period of light use. Suggested alternatives to conventional rebinding included initial protective enclosure, add- on or storage binding, or no subsequent binding at all.

Patterns of use could be better determined by recording of pre- treatment circulations. Such recording could possibly by integrated into automated binding preparation records managed by library binders as a part of the rebinding service. With monographs, certain triggers, such as three circulations, could initiate the rebinding process. The approach which bases specification of rebinding on patterns of use conflicts with the present industry recommendations for rebinding that are based on the book's physical characteristics, such as text thickness or margin dimension. However, usage consideration is compelling, since different patterns of use have observably different effects on condition of the collection. Moreover, expensive Class "A" binding may not be required for lightly used collections.

Various summaries concluded the preconference. Both parties, the preservation librarians and the library binders, are concerned with the future and the prosperity of the library binding industry. But increased librarian/ binder communication is required to assure that the industry's future is based on the provision of needed, nondestructive and effective products. Binders complain that most librarians don't care about the type or quality of products provided. However, the librarian specifically assigned to preservation responsibilities is expected to become informed and responsive. Such preservation librarians and their library binders will require clear and continuous channels of communication as the real preservation needs of the collections are discovered and better provided for.

[Postscript: A "Library Binding Task Force" under Steve Roberts of ICI and Paul Parisi of Acme Bookbinding is considering ways to prepare an instructional AV packet and perhaps "take it on the road" in a series of workshops; and a bindery preparation handbook that will cover much of the same ground covered in the preconference is being written by a group of librarians, independently.]

*The problems are briefly described in "Library Binding Standards- - What is the Problem?????" by Pam Darling, in the Preservation Planning Program Resource Notebook, p. 530. The section entitled "Binding" (p. 524- 564) reprints six excerpts, unpublished passages or articles on library binding, including Gay Walker's "Library Binding as a Conservation Measure," Southern Illinois's "Library Binding Specifications" for two recent years, and part of Matt Roberts's "The Library Binder," from Library Trends, April 1970. (This 626- page looseleaf notebook was announced in the July 1982 issue of this Newsletter and can be purchased for $20 from Office of Management Studies, Association of Research Libraries, 1527 New Hampshire Ave. NW, Washington, DC 20036.)

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