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Collection Development and Maintenance: Processing and Mending

Processing New Materials

Books and DVDs, among many other items, are not designed to withstand the constant use that libraries necessitate from their collections. In order for materials to circulate efficiently and continually, they need to be easily and found and remain in good condition. Processing new items after purchase usually involves the following:

  • Adding the material to the Integrated Library System (ILS) or "catalog"
  • Adding a barcode and spine label
  • Reinforcing the book cover or packaging
  • Adding security tags (if your library has a security system)

Processing materials can be purchased from a number of library vendors.

Mending Damaged Books

Mending books in your collection is a great way to extend their shelf-life. In order to avoid ill-repaired materials or damaging them further, it is important to use materials designed specifically for book mending (sorry, no Scotch nor packaging tape!).

Library-specific materials can be purchased through BrodartThe Library StoreDemco, or Kapco. To start off, you'll want some version of the following supplies:

  • Bone Folder
  • Plastic Adhesive Glue
  • Transparent Mending Tape
  • Hinge Tape
  • Book Tape
  • Small wooden dowels or knitting needles
  • Wax paper

Walkthroughs of common and simple repairs, as well as more advanced techniques, can be found in the resources below:


Medium to Lage-sized libraries may find it well-worth their money to purchase a thermal book repair machine that can help return pages or sections of pages back into the spine of the book:

Book Odors

What’s the best way to remove the smell of smoke, perfume, or other unfortunate scents from your library materials? It’s a common problem in every type of library. In order to salvage your books, you’ll need a bin with a tight seal; stand the books upright in the bin to let the pages fan out and ventilate. Feel free to try different methods for different smells, but make sure to never spray or rub any of the deodorizers directly on the materials—there should always be a layer of separation. If you are deodorizing materials of archival value, only use the last method listed.

  • Put coffee into knee-high hose and tie the hose in a knot. This keeps the coffee from getting too messy, but it removes the odor as well. Cover the bin and leave for several days. The coffee will need to be replaced every 6 months.
  • Two similar options are to leave a box of baking soda open in the bin or to leave dryer sheets open and in the bin. Again, these will need to sit for several days and be replaced as needed.
  • One of the most highly recommended options for deodorizing materials is to use non-perfumed, non-clumping cat litter (use the cheapest one you can find). Pour an inch or two layer on the bottom of the bin and cover it in paper towels; set the books upright on the paper towels and cover with the lid. Check the materials once a week, and if the smell is not gone after a month, replace the cat litter. This is the only method listed that is approved by the National Archives for use on archival materials.