What Is Library Binding? Read This To Understand

Library binding ensures the durability of the books in the library. With a book’s importance and regular use, preservation is a necessity. To also ensure history’s preservation, books must be conserved and protected.

Library binding is the reason libraries still have books that got published many years ago. And it is why many books still have all their pages intact.

What Is Library Binding?

Library binding is simply the binding of serials and the rebinding of paperback books for library use. The library binding process involves sewing together the pages of books and strengthening the spine of each book in the library. It’s also divided into two parts; the original and aftermarket binding. 

The original:

The originally bound books got bound when they were published specifically for library use. The books usually come with more rigid covers than the ones sold to the public.

The aftermarket binding:

Aftermarket binding involves rebinding paperback for use in the library. Serial binding is part of the aftermarket process.

Read on for more on this topic. 

The Origin Of Library Binding 

Historically, the purpose of binding was to preserve written words. Before books, People recorded words on clay tablets, papyrus rolls, and Rolls of vellum.

The inscription on clay tablets got preserved with outer clay shells. 

Papyrus rolls used in ancient Egypt were preserved in rectangular cases made from wood. 

Rolls of vellum and paper were encased in cylinders. Throughout history, people have strived to protect written words.

Then the transition to manuscripts in book form came. This manuscript was preserved with fine bindings. The binds were often fine bejeweled leather. At the time of manuscripts, bookbinding was art. The binding was both aesthetically pleasing and protective. 

As printing evolved, the publishers’ binding became the norm. This change quickly took bookbinding from art to a profit-chasing craft. The publishers’ binding was of low quality. It was not aesthetically pleasing as previous bindings. But it has persisted.

Library Binding And Prebound Books

The terms library binding and prebound are widely used in the publishing industry and libraries. Prebound books are books (paperback) that are published for sale to the public. These published books are then acquired for use by the library. 

While reinforcing and preserving rebound books for library use are library binding, the two terms are interconnected. They are often used in book circulation. 

What Are The Characteristics Of Library Binding?

Below are library binding’s main characteristics.

  • Volume should open with ease, at least to a 180-degree position. This is to prevent damage and allow ease when photocopying.
  • Binding process causes little or no damage to the text block. The process should not cut short the book’s life span in any way.
  • Volume should be able to stay open without assistance from the reader. To make it significantly easier for the reader to take notes while reading the volume.

Why Is Library Binding Essential?

  • Library binding is done to ensure durability and longevity. 
  • It saves the library money because It is often inexpensive. 
  • It makes it easy for library patrons to use books because they are usually complete and easy to open and photocopy. 
  • Lastly, library binding can help to reinvent damaged books. 

Types Of Binding 

There are several types of binding. Some are more popular than others. Although, they all have the same aim-to preserve books.

Spiral binding:

This type of binding is known for its unique ability to allow books to open flat. Spiral-bound books are easy to photocopy. 

The helical coil allows 360-degree movement whether it is a soft cover or a hardcover. 

Sewn binding:

It is almost impossible to lose book pages that have been sewn bound. The pages are sewn together, sectionally. Sewn-bound books are solid and durable.


The wire-o binding is similar to spiral binding. It can open flat. It also allows for 360-degree movement of the pages. 

The wire-o binding involves forcing a wire spine to close around punched book pages. It is an effective process.

Glued binding:

This inexpensive binding is also known as the perfect binding. A flexible adhesive binds the book pages. 

It is as effective as the other types of binding mentioned.


The saddle stitch is the most cost-effective type of binding available. It is also the least durable. 

The binding involves stitching together with a metal wire the book pages and the book cover. 

Because one has to fold its metal wire into the book, a stitch is hardly visible. The standard stitch isn’t more than two.

What Is The Library Binding Process?

Library binding is a service provided by binding companies to libraries. Sewing (over) is for binding library books. 

The cover of the paperback’s spine is removed during the sewing process, leaving a bundle of loose pages. 

The pages are into tiny parts that the binder can easily sew together. Afterward, all bundled pages get sewn together using a stitch, preferably overlock. 

The book’s new cover is usually made of an acrylic-covered-strong cloth.

The acrylic coating makes the item water, insect, and ultraviolet light-resistant. The strong cloth is a bulky fabric that is made of 100% cotton. The design allows it to withstand different conditions. 

Smaller books are often bound with light cloth or material. The library can choose not to coat the cloth with acrylic. 

Important information such as the title of the volume is on the book spine. 

Are There Other Library Binding Alternatives?

Yes, there are other alternatives to library binding. Stiffening is one alternative. Stiffening is a low-cost method of preserving paperback books for internal library use. 

A piece of fabric or a strong material is glued to the inside joints of a paperback book to strengthen the cover’s connection to the book pages. 

The book’s front and back covers stick together with a thin strip. This strip allows the book to be upright when placed on library shelves. It also prevents the book from bending and cracking.

Some libraries use stiffening, but it is a rarity.

Documents In The Library That Need Binding 


The information contained in newspapers is valuable. They contain information about events and happenings of the time. It is probably the most accessible material to understand, collect and lose in the library.

Newspapers fall apart easily and quickly because of the type of paper, they are made with-Newsprint. For this reason, Libraries should preserve them appropriately. 

Microfilming is the best solution to the problem of newspaper conservation. Newspapers can be bound in an economical binding. This binding consists of stout boards covered with a paper-like material and stapled together with spines made of leather cloth. 

Libraries may choose to bind papers that are not permanent parts of their collections or not. Some libraries prefer to acquire several copies to meet the initial high demand and bind only one copy for future purposes. 


Pamphlets are publications with fewer than fifty pages. They are often paper-covered, which makes them delicate.

Years ago, the method used by libraries was collecting a sufficient number of these pamphlets and binding them into a book. Though it is primarily advantageous because of the ease of handling and cost-effectiveness, this practice is not satisfactory.

Libraries then stored pamphlets in vertical boxes, envelopes, or wire-stapled into manila covers. This method was successful and is still in use. Another common option is using a modern filing system.

The method a library uses is determined by how vital preserving certain pamphlets are to them. The nature of the pamphlets and the size of the pamphlet collection is also a factor libraries consider.


Because of its high demand and use, as well as its transitory nature, fiction requires careful consideration. Although popularity may prompt librarians to consider binding, they must keep a large stock on hand to meet the demand.

It is expensive to rebind an old and worn-out fictional book. But it is cheaper to buy a new book. In recent years, fiction was treated the same way as other books in the libraries, but that has changed.

Many librarians believe binding fiction is unnecessary. Since it can be purchased for almost the same price as binding, if not less, however, some librarians believe that binding is still required to maintain the continuity of the actual volume of book stock.


For archival purposes, periodicals must be bound. Periodicals make up a large portion of library collections, particularly in university and research libraries. 

Binding these materials in a research library is an essential aspect of conservation. They are so vital that they must be checked for completeness regularly at different times during the year. The checked sets can then be bound based on the intended use. Their wear and tear are comparatively less severe.

Libraries can save space and money by opting for light bindings—for example, a cloth binding with boards of sufficient strength. 


Library bindings are necessary if we want to extend and preserve book life. Its importance cannot be overemphasized. And as important as binding is binding, the right way is more important.

Libraries should not bind permanent materials such as fragile and rare items, archives, and newspapers. Instead, the library should laminate them for protection. Archival material is better suited to file envelopes and specially sized flat storage boxes.

Recent Articles


Related Stories

Leave A Reply

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

Stay on op - Ge the daily news in your inbox