my research mulligan

Revisiting my first post I think that I would be up for looking at the idea of book binding and casing in more detail.

Working in a Public Library right now I feel that there is a disconnect between the monetary value of the textual object that books are and the intellectual value that we should hold for these artifacts. The modern trend to use Thermally Activated Binding (which is basically a bunch of different method to glue loose sheets together) drastically undervalues and undermines the integrity of the textual artifact that has been bound in that way. There are publishers that are able to provide sewn bindings with full cloth cases (specifically Random House’s Everyman’s Library) that are affordable and must be economical for the publishers as well. These cloth cases and sewn bindings make the books much more durable as well as aesthetically pleasing.

The question that I may want to work towards would be round the changes in the materials used for binding and mass production changed in relation to mass literacy and demand for books. Can texts that are bound with higher quality materials automatically be viewed as being of more importance than texts bound with lesser materials?

That’s a very brief overview of an interest that I have. Perhaps with more thought I can actually turn it into a proper question.



Ben S.



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3 responses to “my research mulligan

  1. Hey Ben,

    Funny you mention this. I was just in the Inforum looking for some books, and I was actually thinking how funny it is that we’re studying library science (majority of us at least), but yet the stacks in the Inforum remain so unappealing. I know a library isn’t just all about appearance, but when I’m browsing through a specific section of books, I always tend to glance at the ones with an actual cover, rather than the ones in the paper covering with just a title. If I’m even doing this, and I want to be a librarian, what does this mean for the public? I think aesthetic is extremely important, whether we’d like to believe it or not.

    Victoria Grant

    • annastandish

      Hi Victoria,

      I wholeheartedly agree with you about the importance of the library space! But (and maybe I’m just biased because I work there) I actually like the stacks at the Inforum. Obviously it isn’t even *near* the same league as say the Long Room at Trinity College Library (Dublin) [hands down the most beautiful library I’ve ever set foot in!] and even the Hart House library has more charm – but the abundance of natural light is something that I personally value quite highly, and if you take a closer look at the stacks, you might be surprised by how many old and lovely books are hidden between the ugly binders and reports 🙂

  2. Thank you Ben for teaching me something new! I was unaware of Random House’s Everyman’s Library – it is wonderful that the company is producing high-quality books.

    I believe that if the writing is high-quality (i.e., a good book worth reading) then the physical book should be as well. When I buy a book, I want to display it on my shelf and I want it to last. It would be wonderful if libraries carried books that were bound better – last week I had placed a book on hold and yesterday I went to collect it and pages were so loose that I decided not to take it out. I didn’t want to worry about pages falling out!

    I suppose it all comes down to money! Or could it be time, as well? Perhaps the demand for books as literacy grew could not keep up with the better binding methods?


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