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27 February 2008

Book Repair Committee

The sound of laughter coming from the upstairs annex at the old library in the Latham Building was a sure sign that it was the second Tuesday of the month and the book repairers had their backs to the wall as they toiled in tight quarters. Since the move to the Breuner Building last year, the restoration work continues in more spacious quarters and the mirth now emanates from the back room of the new library. You can't help but get the feeling that these five loyal volunteers really love what they are doing.

The CGS Book Repair Committee, headed by Bill O'Neil, has been meeting like clockwork on the second Tuesday of every month, since the group formed in 1987 under the tutelage of the late Dick Thrift. Because the repair process can require several steps and the committee meets only once per month, it can take several months for the repair business to be completed. During that time, the books are out of circulation.

The committee allows the California Genealogical Society to maintain open stacks. Books in need of care are marked by a blue ribbon and stay on the shelves to allow patron use until the menders can get to them. The most common repairs are for torn spines and loose pages, but the committee has seen it all. Bill explained that their goal when repairing books is to strike a balance between "keeping them in one piece and doing no harm."

Each member "adopts" a book and works on it one day a month until it is ready to be placed back on the shelf. The average book takes three months to complete. The committee repairs an average of 100 books per year.

Tools of the trade.

Lorna Wallace puts the finishing touches on a newly repaired book

Book repair group: (standing) Lorna Wallace, Marianne Frey, Bill O'Neil;
(seated) Anne Robinson and Dick Rees.

Photographs by Kathryn M. Doyle, Oakland, California, 12/11/2007.

Copyright © 2008 by Kathryn M. Doyle, California Genealogical Society and Library.


Anonymous said...

Thank you, Kathryn. Maybe that lovely blog entry will entice more book menders... uh-oh: then we would need more space again! ;-)

You're doing a great job.


Kathryn Doyle said...


Thanks for your kind words. And thanks back to you for the great work you and the other book repairers do for CGS.