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A Simple Book Repair Manual: Air Drying Wet Books

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This procedure is appropriate for handling  wet books.  Ideally, wet books should be freeze dried then treated. This procedure outlines what to do when the book is not totally soaked and/or freezing is not practical. Wet books that dry closed, or are not treated within six hours of becoming wet, will almost always need to be discarded. The blocking agent used in processing paper acts as an adhesive when wet. The book will probably dry as a solid block.

Suggested Equipment & Supplies:

  • Book press
  • Press boards
  • Fan
  • Paper towels
  • Blotter paper

Procedures:

  1. Using blotter paper or paper towels, blot as much water from the book as possible. Be careful not to rub either the cover or the wet pages.
  2. Stand the book on its tail and fan open the pages. If possible dry the book in this position in the sunlight or with the use of a fan. Alternatively, dry the book away from a direct heat source, but in a warm dry area. The more quickly the book dries the less cockling (rippling) will occur.
  3. If after drying the cover is warped, place the book between two press boards and place in a book press for several days.
  4. In all likelihood a wet book that has been air dried will never look as good as it once did.

Last Updated: 1/5/12