Repairing Pamphlets at the Library of the Religious Society of Friends

By Sibel Ergener

For two weeks in July I volunteered at the Library of the Religious Society of Friends, part of the Quaker Centre located near Euston in London. While there I worked on conserving pamphlets and several books.

The library has a large quantity of pamphlets that NADFAS volunteers organize, remove staples from, and resew, but several pamphlets have additional need of paper repair, or have staples that are difficult to remove either because paper covers are glued to cover them or they have rusted very badly. These pamphlets were passed on to me.

"More Penn Correspondence, Ireland, 1669-1670" is an example of one of the typical pamphlets I worked on. It had rusted, covered staples, paper tears throughout the pages, and some brittle areas of the paper that needed guarding.

I used 12 gsm Japanese tissue and wheatstarch paste to do paper repairs after removing the staples. The fills were completed using a 32 gsm Japanese tissue.

In the end, looking much less fragile!

I did some more simple repairs like this to other pamphlets so they could be sent back to the NADFAS volunteers to resew.

Some staples glued under a cover:

Removing staples:

Repairing covers:

and some more fills and paper repair:

Overall, this kind of conservation work is simple but necessary to maintaining a functioning library. It's not the most exciting work to be given, but these pamphlets are pulled out for research and the nature of how they are made leaves them more susceptible to damage compared to a more robust book. Removing staples before they rust or cause damage to the paper is important to maintaining their longevity, but due to the huge quantity of acquisitions and items the library has not had yet time to sort, sometime the librarians are only made aware of damages when people like the NADFAS volunteers get to them or when the pamphlets are requested for research.

(Editor's note: Sibel and I hope that you'll forgive the image quality: often a problem when working on-site. Dark photos are better than no photos, right?)