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Soiled pages: A bibliophile’s guide to saving books

Even the most fantastic of novels could not escape the wrath of ‘Ondoy,’ book lover Jayme Gatbonton realized as she surveyed the damage that the epic flood inflicted in her neighborhood. Her prized Twilight book series sat unmoved atop their bookshelf, but the spines and pages had been soaked and softened by the deluge that thrashed their home. Hundreds of houses met a similar fate when the tropical storm ravaged Metro Manila and surrounding provinces last week, leaving bibliophiles like Jayme with a heartbreaking sight upon returning to their battered homes. Six days after torrential rains caused historic floods in many parts of metropolitan Manila, half of Jayme’s book collection was still submerged in water. Fortunately, her favorite pink Bible was among those spared. As waters slowly recede and residents struggle to bring their lives back to normal, book lovers have one main concern – how to restore their beloved books. GMANews.TV has compiled a few tips and tricks to help bookworms salvage their beloved tomes.
No squeezing or sunlight One of the first few things to consider is the kind of book and the extent of the damage it has sustained. Pages that have special coating, like glossy ones, may need to be restored by professionals, along with rare volumes. Popular books that have been extremely damaged might be easier replaced than restored. The Filipino Librarian, a blog maintained by Canada-based Pinoy librarian Von Totanes, recommends that “it is generally more efficient to work on the least damaged [books] than on the wettest material." No matter how tempting, water must not be squeezed out of wet books. It is also highly advised not to open and close books more than what is needed; doing so may destroy their spines. Exposing wet books to sunlight might also add damage to the volume, as it might cause the pages to yellow or fade and dry unevenly.
DRY UP. A man in Marikina City leaves soaked pads of official receipts to dry under the sun, days after record level of floods triggered by storm 'Ondoy' swept through the city. Mark Merueñas
Some books that may have escaped extreme damage from the floods could still be dampened by the storm. Such books can be held upright while its pages are air-dried in a cool, dry place. Electric fans can be used, but should not face the books directly. Wet books that have been dirtied in the floods should be cleaned first before restoration. They can be placed under running water or rinsed in a basin, depending on the kind of paper used. Soap or other chemicals should not be used to clean the books, and rubbing the pages has to be avoided. Use absorbent paper When the books are clean, a paper towel (or any absorbent paper) can be used to interleave the pages: with the book lying flat, a piece of paper towel can be placed between 10 pages at the minimum, depending on the dampness of the leaves. Take care not to place the absorbent paper too closely, as this may damage the book. The absorbent paper should also be changed every hour to encourage drying. Putting a paper weight on top of the book increases absorption. When the books are finally dry, owners can inspect the volumes to determine whether more work is needed to completely restore them. Professional book restorers may be needed if a favorite book has sustained spine or other extreme damage. Lives and belongings have been lost to the unexpected deluge, forcing thousands of families to start their lives anew. With these tips, it is hoped that Jayme and her fellow book lovers will be ready to face this new challenge with their old friends in tow. – GMANews.TV Sources: Filipino Librarian, the National Library of Australia and I Love 2 Read. Art by Analyn Perez