1. How long have you worked at the library?
I’ve worked here 16.5 years. I started out as a page and then worked up to circulation. I’ve been in the Cairo branch and then back here. I got this job in January of this year.
2. What is your job title and what do you do exactly?
My title is technical service clerk. This is pretty much the nerve center of the library. We have all the incoming and outgoing as far as the materials, orders, mail. I cover books, put on the appropriate stickers after our department head puts them in the computer and puts them in the catalog. Then they are taken to the circulation department. As we go through the collection we weed out older items and bring them through here to take out of the catalog. We stamp them and put them out for sale. We have thousands of items that go in and out of here. If a book is valuable or we want to keep it, I do the mending. I’ll recover it and clean it up so it is in good enough shape to go out again.
3. Do you have to repair a lot of books?
I do have to repair quite a few, but that is actually the least time consuming duty of this job. If I can’t get it in right order, I will send it out to the bindery, but you have to have multiple books before they’ll come out to take them. I probably mend a couple dozen books a month.
4. Do you have to have special training?
I was just trained here. I was fortunate enough to be trained by the person who worked this job prior to me. That was very beneficial because without that I would not have known where to start. Sue Clark is the one that trained me all around. My boss Sue Petty helped, too.
5. What kind of tools to do you use?
Basically, we use a pretty primary system with glue and banding to hold the books tight so they can dry. The more major mending jobs are sent out because we don’t have that kind of equipment.
6. What kinds of damage do you repair the most?
Most of it is spine damage. The pages get broken away from the spine. I have to go in and glue the pages back to the spine. Sometimes, we get tears, but the biggest majority is when the spine gets broken.
7. What’s the hardest type of damage to repair?
To me the torn pages are the hardest thing to repair. There is no easy way to tape those back together. It’s hard to line it all back up correctly so the words and paragraphs match up.
8. What’s the most challenging part of mending a book?
I suppose it’s rearranging the pages in the correct order before gluing, and to get them to line up perfectly with the edges of pages still attached – that can be very challenging.
9. Does there come a point where a book is too badly damaged to mend?
Yes, there does come a point and that happens especially if they are wet and get smeared or dirty and even sometimes moldy. There comes a time when it just isn’t feasible to fix them.
10. What’s your favorite part about this job?
I enjoy saving the book, especially if it is a valuable item, or we don’t want to lose it because it circulates a lot, or it is about local history or written by a local author. So much nonfiction is so valuable, and we save so much money in being able to recover one.