Published On: 6 September 2022359 words2 min read

Fixing this very well-used Church Hymnary presented two major challenges. The first being the most obvious: it was pretty trashed. The text block had split into three sections, it had come away from the case binding, the cover had missing pieces, and some of the pages were torn and crumpled. The second was the post-it notes at the head of the book, as the book was still in constant use by it’s musician-owner and needed them to remain where they were.

Fortunately, despite being a mass produced book, it was made with folded sections rather than single pages. Unfortunately it was still a mass produced book, so it’s structural strength (such as it is) was based on a very thick slab of hot glue along the spine. This meant the book straight off the shelf does not open well and was built for neither longevity nor frequent use… somewhat unhelpful for a book of this kind.

Removing the glue was a very messy and unpleasant job, but was achieved with the assistance of a hair dryer on low. After the necessary paper repairs it was re-sewn on tapes. This should not only enable it to open better for use, but should also give it a much longer life. Bookbinders will usually square a book at the head when sewing, but given the post-it notes I had to use the tail instead.

In doing so I realised the machine stitching had been done in three sections, which were then held together solely by the spine glue. And not surprisingly this was where the book structure had failed. I have since wandered up to Iona Abbey and had a look at the stack of Church Hymnary’s they have there – these are all obviously in frequent use as well, and many are broken are breaking in the exact same spots.

That left the cover. Unbleached cotton was toned to match the original book cloth and used to replace the missing pieces of the spine. The book was then cased back into it’s cover using strong cotton flanges across the spine.

It’s now back on it’s owners music stand, where it belongs.