The plants had already caused damage, such as acid-burn and staining, and also made it difficult for readers to handle or read this book. So we made the decision to remove the inserted plant matter. We photographed all of the pages with plants in them, then carefully removed all of the larger material. However, there were a lot of smaller plant pieces that got wedged down in the gutter of the pages, so I gathered up all of my favorite small tools and got down to work!
The majority of the pages were fairly easy to sweep clean with my soft squirrel-hair brush, but there were three that were literally FULL of dirt. Those took me almost 30 minutes each to clean out fully, using a combination of tools that included a dental scaler, microspatula, a stiff small brush and a mini-vacuum. While using the dental scaler I had to be very careful not to poke holes in the paper or get caught on the sewing thread, but it turned out to be a very useful tool indeed!
No love for whoever used these pink heart-shaped sticky notes in one of our library books. They are now firmly attached to the page, even after only being placed there less than 8 months ago. Our circulation staff sent this book to Preservation after they tried to remove one of the notes, and it ended up taking away some of the page with it!
Please, please don’t use sticky notes (such as post-it notes) in library books!
And this is also why the staff at the library will often stress that patrons should not attempt their own repairs of library books. The “repair” often does more damage than helps, and won’t actually save you from being fined for a repair or replacement fee. This was so heavily damaged that we ended up withdrawing it, and probably just bought a new copy. But now it has a second life in my office as a great example of “what not to do”!
Wow, whoever originally backed this 19th century publisher’s binding should’ve really taken a moment to calm down and take a deep breath first before continuing. They really beat the heck out of it with the hammer!