19 May 2011

Are any modern books bound like this?

This photo, by atelier de betty, brings back memories of when I worked as a library assistant during college and used to explore the attic stacks at night reshelving books.

p.s. - is there a proper technical term for this type of closure?


  1. I hate to be a stickler for terminology here, but unless you have a relevant masters degree (MLS, MIS, MLIS, etc.), you worked as a library assistant during college, not a librarian.

  2. Terminology sticklers are quite welcome at this blog.

    The library was in the house of a college, and we were called "librarians," but your point is well taken. I don't want to mislead anyone or dilute the prestige of the word.

    Fixed. Thanks.

  3. I can not remember the actual term for this type of hinged latch, but the most common modern adaptation of this would be a lock on a diary. It is not on the bound side of the signatures of the book but keeps the book closed when it is being moved..

  4. It is called a clasp.


  5. A hat tip to the anon who provided the link above -

    "All books written or ties printed on vellum should have clasps. Vellum unless kept flat is apt to cockle, and this in a book will force the leaves apart and admit dust. If a book is tightly wedged in a shelf the leaves will be kept flat, but as the chance removal of any other book from the row will remove the pressure, it is much better to provide clasps for vellum books."

    Now we have to look up "cockle"...

  6. You might be interested in the Strahov library panorama, the largest indoor photo in the world.

  7. Very nice. At full zoom I was able to read the lettering on the bindings.

  8. I'm a book conservator and a librarian -- "cockle" describes the wrinkling or puckering that occurs when (in this case) vellum or parchment pages in a bound volume expand and contract in reaction to fluctuations in humidity and temperature. Parchment leaves are so reactive to these fluctuations that there are stories of unclasped or unboxed books expanding so much that the whole shelf of books pushes each other out and they fly off of the shelves like bats only to be found in disarray on the floor.

  9. Thank you. After reading your comment, I found some more info at this link -


    And it seems that the etymology of the word is related to the shape of the cockleshell.


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...