Book conservation at the College of Charleston

I recently toured the King Library Press at the University of Kentucky. It’s one of those beautiful lived-in spaces that can only be achieved through years of creative work and dedication to a craft. The founding of the press is rather interesting; it was started in 1956 by a small group of librarians (all women) who worked the press over their lunch hours.

The tour reminded me that I’ve yet to post photographs of the book conservation work at the College of Charleston. Brien Beidler, a CofC science student, has been volunteering at Special Collections since the summer of 2011 re-binding the Mackenzie books. John Mackenzie was one of the Charleston’s (Charles Towne) early citizens and his impressive collection of books survived wars, fire, and a hurricane. More information on the collection and the project can be found here.

I was fortunate to take Gary Frost’s introductory book binding course at the University of Iowa, and since then I’ve greatly admired those who create beautiful structures with paper, string, and leather.

Pages have been reinforced with Japanese tissue in order to strengthen them for re-binding.
Brien working on the leather cover
Raised cords have been flattened and pasted onto the cover boards.
Raised cords are emphasized by pressing the surrounding leather on the spine
ps. There is a wonderful contemporary binding exhibit up in the Great Hall at the University of Kentucky Special Collections.