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Commercial Library Binding


Books are sent for binding to extend their service lives. Not all binderies do Library Binding. Those that do follow specific standards (ANSI/NISO Z39.78 - 2000 (R2006) Library Binding) designed to keep the book in useable condition for the longest time and are usually members of the Library Binding Institute.

Some libraries do not bind at all, preferring to allow monographs and journals to circulate in their original form. Some public libraries may use library binding only for journals and choose to use in-house methods for repair and strengthening, depending on their needs. Academic libraries send most all of their materials to be bound to a library binder as a preservation method to ensure that the materials are available for future research.

Library staff may want to seek assistance for selecting items for commercial binding that are of historical significance or books published before 1930 to ensure that the books receive appropriate binding treatment.

(Please note all PDFs listed below will open in a new window when clicked.)


A key issue prior to binding is to determine to what extent a book is important only for its information (the words printed in it) and to what extent it should be treated as an artifact (the binding itself or the original cover art).

For a discussion of this topic see: On the Preservation of Books and Documents in Original Form by Barclay Ogden.

General Principles for Responsible Commercial Book Binding
The ANSI/NISO Z39.78 - 2000 (R2006) Library Binding is the industry standard on the materials and use of materials for commercial library binding.

A familiarity with parts of the book and the specialized language of commercial library binding will make the training process more effective.

Bookbinding and the Conservation of Books: A Dictionary of Descriptive Terminology by Matt T. Roberts & Don Etherington.

Parts of a Book Dartmouth College Library

Glossary of Binding Terms George A. Smathers Library, University of Florida


The library binder produces a more durable binding than commercial edition binderies. However, library binding (like any form of binding) changes the appearance of the book and conseqently may lead to a loss of aesthetic or collector's value. Further, care must be taken to choose binding materials slow to deteriorate during aging and durable enough to avoid mechanical failure of the binding from wear and tear.


Training for commercial binding selection is not a trivial enterprise. The manuals and other training resources below are offered not as a substitute for formal training, but as an adjunct and reinforcement. Manuals and tutorials can help a prospective bindery preparation technician make the most of his/her training.

Commercial Library Binding Workshop
California Preservation Program
(May 2006, San Jose)

  1. Agenda
  2. Powerpoint presentation - Importance of Commercial Library Binding within a Preventative Preservation Program
  3. Terminology used at the bindery
  4. Parts of a bound volume
  5. Informal bindery process outline
  6. Quality Control outline

All in PDF format, will open in new window




Binding Resources

Preservation Department, Stanford University Libraries
Selection Criteria for Binding Styles by Laura Cameron. Preservation Department, Stanford University Libraries.
Selection Criteria for Rebinding a Previously Bound Volume. Preservation Department, Stanford University Libraries.

The two documents provide examples of approaches to library binding decision making. They are of general interest and can be adapted for use by a range of many types of libraries.

Northeast Document Conservation Center
Assessing Preservation Needs: A Self-Survey Guide by Beth Patkus. NEDCC, 2003.
Provides a self-assessment Library Binding Worksheet for commercial library binding.

Preservation Leaflets - Ch. 7.1 Guidelines for Library Binding by Sherelyn Ogden. NEDCC.
Provides technical information on preservation issues and practices as they relate to library binding.

The Library Binding Institute
The Library Binding Institute is the premier information resource on library binding.  Go to the link above and click on “Library Binding” to access a copy of the (soon to be posted) Guide to the Library Binding Standard, (Jan Merrill-Oldham and Paul Parisi) as well as other resources on library binding.  There is also an “Ask a Binder” section on the website.

Archival Products News
Binding in Tough Times by Patricia Selinger. Archival Products News, vol. 10, no. 1:5-8.
Article discusses the balance of collection maintenance through library binding and how budget reallocations have changed binding trends.


  ゥ 2007 by the California Preservation Program
Page last modified: November 2009
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