Bookmark Quiz #1

A book is not a coaster

Spilled coffee - bookmark image for Preservation Week

Quite by accident a cup of coffee overturns and spills all over your library book.

What would you do?

1. Try to remove the stain by washing the paper with soap and water.

Sorry, this is not the correct answer because soap and water can damage some paper and cause some inks to run.  Also, wet paper is very weak and can be easily torn.

2. Absorb as much of the coffee as possible with a paper towel and stand the book up to dry.

Correct!  Wet book paper will begin to mold within 48 hours, especially in a warm and humid environment.  Moderately wet books that have no water damage to the spine can be dried by standing them on a flat surface with the covers spread open unless the paper is coated (shiny or glossy).  Each page or leaf must be interleaved with wax paper for coated paper to dry properly.  The bookblock should be supported underneath so that it won't begin to pull out of the case.  Gently moving air (ideally from a fan) will shorten the drying time.

3. Close the book and hope that the wet and stain won't be noticed.

Sorry, this answer is not correct.  Coated paper (shiny or glossy) will stick together when it gets wet.  If the pages dry together they will be permanently stuck together in a solid block, thus, ruining the book. Each page or leaf must be interleaved with wax paper for coated paper to dry properly.

4. Tell the librarian about the accidental spill and be willing to pay for any repairs.

Correct!  By all means, tell the librarian so that appropriate repairs can be made.  This may entail making a new cover for the book.

5. Throw the book away.

Sorry, this answer is not correct.  Throwing the book away is not the solution even if you wouldn't mind paying for a lost book because some books are rare and cannot be replaced at any cost.  It is best to consult the librarian when a library book has been damaged while it is checked out to you.
Back to the UHM Preservation Department website for more Bookmark Quizzes.