As a teenager, I had a range of Saturday and evening jobs while still at school. One of my absolute favourite jobs was working in the District Libraries. I used to work in the Central Library on a Saturday and then one of the local children’s libraries on a Thursday night. I was in heaven, surrounded by books and other people who also loved books!
Aside from putting books on shelves, collecting overdue fines and stamping return dates in books with gusto, one of my jobs was to repair damaged and old books. I used to love bringing these books back to life and I would refine and perfect my technique so it was hard to tell whether a cover had ever been repaired. Sometimes the spine of the book would be hanging off to reveal the binding work and I found myself fascinated with how a book was put together. There was a real sense of a lost era in the craftsmanship of the older books, whilst the newer ones seemed to be coated in thick white glue down the inside of the spine. Where was the challenge in repairing those? Even as a teenager I lamented that lost art of ‘creating’ a beautifully bound book.
As a child I used to create covers for all the writings I did for my mum … the apologetic poetry I may have mentioned before. I would craft hardboard covers using pieces of material, wallpaper or wrapping papers. Sometimes I would literally sew the pages of my writings together and glue them inside the decorated cardboard covers. Working in the library, however, allowed me to see books in a deconstructed manner which gave me more insight into how I could ‘create my own little books with a bit more individuality and finesse. I’ve been creating my own little books with scraps of paper ever since.
It is actually a very therapeutic exercise to create a personalized booklet ready for writing your thoughts and doodling your doodles. If you are using scraps of paper and cards you have around the house already then it’s a wonderful way to recycle and help the planet too.