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Book Documentary

November 8, 2006


Forty years ago last week on November 4th, 1966, the river Arno topped its banks flooding the city of Florence, Italy and burying the Biblioteca Nazionale Centrale (National Central Library) and perhaps a million articles - books, folios and other paper archives - with water, mud and waste.

Bookbinders came to the rescue of the library and salvaged much of what could be saved.

Sam Ellenport of the Harcourt Bindery in Boston, Massachusetts said this of the flood and the call to bookbinders for assistance:

A growing sense of responsibility toward collection maintenance by librarians, curators, and others outside the craft was especially heightened by the sudden destruction caused by the Florence Flood in Italy during November, 1966. The response to the damage caused by the flood, although institutionally organized, relied mostly on individuals joined in a common purpose rather than on an orchestrated effort by established hand binderies.

This fascinating documentary is online:

The Restoration of Books

As a book lover, I was transfixed by the amount of work and care required of the conservators. Please leave a comment with your thoughts. A tragedy, yes, and a reminder of the talents of ordinary people, artists and bookbinders.

Via the Book Arts List.