I had no idea that Ben was interested in learning how books are made until we started his wish list, and I had no clue where or how to make that happen. Then the article came out in the paper and we got a sweet email from Jessica at our local university. She works in the preservation department so not only does she know how to make books, but she gets to work with some really old books to preserve them. I took just the older three kids along for this trip and headed over one afternoon to learn more. The first thing we saw was a card catalog, which was really funny – C knew what it was, but Ben had no clue (I better fill in that little bit of history.) Then we entered what looked like one of the NASA labs but it was filled books instead of space equipment! Jessica and her two students walked us through the steps of making a book – and not just any book, but a special Doctor Who book which was fantastic! They even had a special custom made Tardis cover, it was perfect and thoughtful and so cool. (I told Ben I wanted a turn to read the book first!) They went through the whole process, from folding pages to sewing, gluing, cutting, creating the cover, pressing. And Ben was able to be right there seeing up close how it all came together.
Then they showed us some of the preservation steps, how some books are so old they get special custom made boxes to protect them. Others get new covers (since they try to preserve as much as possible.) Jessica explained why we use acid-free paper and showed them what happens to the pages if they are not acid free (which I think was a little sad for Ben to see, watching paper literally crumble before your eyes!) They were able to look at some of the old books, and watch them use the guillotine to help repair another book (which was appropriately dramatic.) Then they packaged up Ben’s book to finish drying and let C & Mo each pick their own blank book and we said THANK YOU, thank you and came home to show off the new additions to our library. 🙂