Tuesday, October 4, 2011

The Reluctant Dragon

double checking the page sequence
In addition to working on rare books I also spend time working in the book repair unit for the Library's circulating collections.  I work alongside the book repair technicians although I tend to work on the more complex repairs, in addition to offering training in advanced skills. 

The book I am working on now is Kenneth Grahame's "The Reluctant Dragon" which is an adorable story about a little boy who is the son of a shepherd but also a great reader, who "spent much of his time buried in big volumes", a dragon who loves to write poetry and the knight St. George.

Working on circulating collections can be fun, especially when the book is such a charming read, but it also reinforces skills I use in working on more rare and delicate books.  The page mending techniques and materials are the same, and in the case of this book, the need to collate the book so that I can be sure I put the pages back in the right order.  This book is only three signatures, or sewing sections, but it doesn't have page numbers which means that I have to double check to make sure that I am putting the detached pages back in the right order. In the good old days of  manuscripts, printing and hand binding "catch words" were used to make sure the pages were in the correct sequence, but they haven't been in common use since the late 18th century. 

Good thing that the story is such a fun read, because I have to re-read the last few lines of one page and the first few lines of the other to make sure I've got it right.