By Ian Currie
Rina Goosen, who runs Rhodes University’s Inter-Library Loans department, always has a shelf full of books that need repairing. Amongst her other duties, which include procuring texts for staff, postgraduates and honorary staff that the Rhodes Library does not house, she attempts to repair books that have been damaged. This keeps her busy during lunch and after hours, and she can repair as many as 7 books in an hour.
The books generally need repairing for one of two reasons. The first is due to wear and tear over time. The second is far more avoidable and upsetting. Students tear out pages from journals and take them from the library. In order to fix this, Rina has to obtain the missing pages from other institutions that have them.
The various staff desks at the library notify her as to what pages are missing. Rina has to get copies of the pages from the exact edition and volume that they have been taken from in order to make the repair. This task merges her roles in inter-library loans and as a book repairer. The system she uses will tell her which institution has the pages she is looking for.
A frequent problem Rina faces is the covers of books detaching from their spines. Her repair-work is long lasting and far cheaper than sending the book away to a binder for repair.
Rina uses PVA glue mixed with water to make her repairs. She compares the glue to wood glue. With a paintbrush, PVA glue and A4 paper Rina can repair most of the damage she is asked to deal with.
Here Rina is measuring the paper which she will use to repair the book. She will cut, fold and glue the paper to the cover of the book until the damage is completely repaired. This whole process only takes Rina about 5 minutes.
The repaired books are left to dry on a different shelf, where they will remain until someone collects them and places them back in their home on the library shelves.