The Michigan Daily -- Thursday October 10, 1996 - 5A
'U' team risks fires, floods
to resuce damaged books
By Bram Elias
For the Daily
On a cold February night in 1993, a
fire erupted on the third floor of the
Harlan Hatcher Graduate Library.
At 2 a.m. the proper authorities rushed
to the scene, assembled themselves and
prepared for a daring rescue mission.
The rescue was performed without
any hoses or ladders. Besides; the
authorities wouldn't have known how to
use them any-
The authori- " W e fix
ties were the
-staff of the a1131The h
U n i v e r s i t y
Library were sav4
and Book - Ani
ment. If library
services had a
WAT team, CBR would be it.
This special branch of the University
Library Program held its third annual
open house in the Buhr Building yester-
day. The CBR's lab opened its doors to
about 150 people, as the best and the
brightest in book conservation were on
The open house featured the work of
CBR staffers, along with extensive
equipment and supplies used in the lab.
Conservators and bookbinders also gave
demonstrations of their craft.
Their job is not a small one.
"We see about 17,000 books a year,"
said CBR Head Shannon Zachary.
"About 200 of the books, the most seri-
ously damaged ones, go to conservation.
About 100 labor-hours of work go into
each book in conservation before repair
And the book repair department?
"It depends on the condition of the
book," said student assistant Joao
Sardinha, an LSA senior. "For e.xample,
we can sometimes fix missing pages
within a week.
But if something
d them more serious is
OkS can take up to six
$45,040 for sup-
=tte Christidn plies and equip-
Bookbinder ment budgeted by
department has a staff of six processing
the CBR workload. The staff is assisted
by a number of work-study students and
CBR's performance has- attracted
attention from more than just the
"(CBR) is absolutely great," said Bob
Joly, who supervises the book repair unit
at the University of Iowa and attended the
open house yesterday. "The program is
first-rate as far as how it treats items. The
facilities are absolutely beautiful. They're
much better th4n what we've got at UI."
Tasks CBR workers encounter range
from removing disfigurement caused by
dust and tearing to dealing with the
effects of mold and bookworms.
And the occasional major disaster.
"There was the '93 fire in the Grad
Library," said bookbinder Annette
Christian, recounting some of the most
intense moments she's had at CBR. "I
guess there was an arsonist who didn't
like a particular subject. There was
scorching on one floor, and sprinklers
caused water damage for three floors
below that. Ten thousand books were
As if braving fire wasn't enough, CBR
staffers have found other ways to risk life
and limb saving books.
"Before the chem library was moved
into the Shapiro Undergraduate Library,
it was in the old chem building,"
Christian said. "I think a few floors up in
the building a pipe broke or something.
The flooding was so bad they had plastic
dropcloths over the books trying to keep
them dry. We went in there and started
dragging books out, when someone told
us that the ceiling, which was falling
around us, was full of asbestos."
In a bookbinder's eyes, the risk was
"We fixed them all. The books were
saved," Christian said.
Zachary tried to put in perspective
CBR's reaction to crisis situations.
"We do what we can to help, but
we always wait for safety authorities
to give us the all-clear to do our job.
We wouldn't want to put anyone at
risk," Zachary said.
Ann Ridout sews a book with linen ties in a demonstration yesterday at the University's Library Conservation and Book Repair
open house. Rldout, who has been repairing books for 26 years, joined other members of the CBR department to demonstrate
methods of book repairs used to save damaged books.
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