Introduction to Bookbinding & Conservation

This class teaches traditional bookbinding techniques, understanding of materials, and how to use equipment safely in order to produce long-lasting professional books. You will learn how to make single and multi-section bindings and how to modify & adapt them to different purposes. We will look at historic and modern binding examples for context.

This course will set up the beginner to experiment in bookbinding, take further bookbinding or book conservation classes, and is the prerequisite for Intermediate Bookbinding.

Course Content

Course aims:

• You will learn how to select materials for bookbinding and conservation
• You will learn how to use the available bookbinding equipment and tools safely
• You will become familiar with bookbinding diagrams and written instructions on processes
• You will learn basic principles of bookbinding and be able to construct bindings, either independently or with help
• You will become familiar with conservation ethical principles and approaches
• You will understand basic cleaning and repair techniques for paper and cloth/leather bindings and execute them with help.

You will begin with single-section and two-section pamphlet bindings and progress to a multi-section case binding with rounded and backed spine and a cloth cover, and half- or quarter-leather bindings on raised cords. While styles and aesthetics have changed, many of the techniques and equipment we will use have remained the same for centuries.

You will learn how to choose appropriate paper, adhesive, and covering materials, as well as how the different factors like thread, paper, and board thickness affect each other. Emphasis will be placed on understanding of the book structure and precision required to produce well-made, sturdy bindings. Opportunities will be given for experimentation & personally directed work.

Practical work will be led by demonstration of each process, then time to carry out the work with supervision & assistance as needed. Notes will be provided & digital/print resources recommended. Students are strongly encouraged to attend each session as work one week will be the basis for the next week’s work. We will look at old books in person and on Powerpoint.

While there is no formal assessment, for anyone who wants to pursue a degree in book conservation, a letter of recommendation can be provided upon successfully completing the course.

Entry Requirements

Suitable for beginners

First Class Requirements

Notebook for your own notes
Small breakaway knife like Olfa silver or scalpel with extra blades
Any bookbinding tools you have already. We will discuss optional tools to buy at the first class.

Additional Information

• If you require further course information or advice & guidance that is not answered in this outline, please email

• If you would like general information about the college, for example, fees & finance, funding, term dates or opening times please email or drop in to our main reception area.