Bindery Preparation

Bindery Preparations completes preparation for the commercial binding of serials and paperbacks, commercial rebinding of damaged volumes, and creation by the commercial bindery of custom preservation enclosures. The unit generally handles nearly 40,000 items annually. Bindery Preparations is also responsible for tracking binding invoices, compiling monthly statistics about items sent and errors, and implementing the binding contract. Once materials are returned from the bindery, Bindery Preparations personnel perform a quality control inspection of all bound materials and affix necessary property stamps, location stamps, and anti-theft devices.

 Library Binding Guidelines


In an effort to develop and support a more effective library binding program, the following guidelines apply to the entire University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign Library system. Coordinated through the Bindery Preparations Unit, library binding activities are completed by a commercial bindery according to the currently approved industry standards. The Preservation and Conservation Units will coordinate repair or special handling of items. In some cases, this may include referral for commercial binding or in-house treatment as appropriate. Neither the Bindery Preparations Unit, nor Preservation and Conservation complete personal binding for faculty, staff, students, or the public.

Funding Binding

Library binding is the primary preservation method chosen for almost 40,000 items within the library’s collections annually. As preservation is primarily a collections’ maintenance issue, binding costs are charged to a portion of the Collections Budget. Instructions for preparing materials for the Bindery Preparations Unit are provided by the unit.

Binding Guidelines

The Bindery Preparations Unit will complete library binding according to the following guidelines. Departmental libraries are expected to understand and follow these guidelines:

Analytics – New and Retrospective Binding

  • In general, analytics should not be bound together.
  • If cataloged separately, analytics should be treated as monographs and bound under those criteria.
  • Analytics will not be bound as sets if cataloged separately.
  • For analytics to be bound as a series that have not been bound in five years, it is the sending library’s responsibility to provide the Bindery Preparations staff with buckram colors and any other applicable information to have it processed properly. If no color is provided, black buckram will be chosen.
  • If no information is provided permitting the Bindery Preparations staff to located the appropriate bindery records for items to be bound as a series, reasonable effort will be made to locate the data through searching records and calling. If the data is not provided after a reasonable time, the items will be returned to the library with a note indicating the reason for return.

Facsimile Volumes

  • Facsimile volumes produced through brittle books processing will be library bound.

Damaged Materials

  • Items sent to Preservation and Conservation for repair that are deemed too damaged for in-house repair will be library bound when possible.

Serials – New and Retrospective Binding

  • New Serials/Periodicals – New serial/periodical volumes will be bound as complete volumes are prepared and sent in accordance with the individual library’s serial binding quotas. These quota levels only include newly received serials/periodicals. As a general rule:
    • All periodical titles to be retained permanently will be bound.
    • Titles not permanently retained will not be bound, including titles regularly superseded and withdrawn.
    • Multiple copies of periodical titles will be bound only if the titles are retained permanently at separate locations.
  • It is up to the collection manager’s discretion if the following items are to be library bound:
    • Those for which there is a comparable electronic version (as determined by the collection manager) to which the library and its patrons have ready access.
    • Newspapers that are permanently retained will only be bound if they are not supplanted by other formats or will not be regularly shifted to remote storage.
  • Retrospective binding or boxing projects – Retrospective boxing or binding projects for large runs of serial titles or unbound collections will be pursued as staff time and budgets permit. Arrangements for such projects should be made through the Preservation Librarian.
    • If no information is provided permitting the Bindery Preparations staff to locate the appropriate bindery records for titles that libraries indicate have been previously bound, reasonable effort will be made to locate the data through searching records and contacting the sending library. If the data is not provided after a reasonable time, the items will be returned to the library unbound with a note indicating the reason for return.

Monographs – Softbound

  • Softbound Books – Unless inappropriate due to physical format, size, damage, or other criteria, the default binding style will always be digicover binding. Bindery Preparations Unit personnel will make these decisions.
    • Over/Undersize Items – New, softbound monographs greater that 10.5″ tall or two inches thick or 7.5″ wide (wide enough to extend beyond the edge of a standard bookshelf) shall be bound un-circulated. Similarly, undersized (< 6″ tall) paperback items shall be bound un-circulated. They will be routed directly to Bindery Preparations after Cataloging and Marking.
    • Standard Items – New, softbound monographs shall be bound un-circulated at the collection manager’s discretion and as the Head of Preservation determines the binding budget will support. Collection managers are strongly encouraged to avoid (a) blanket binding for their subject area and (b) immediately binding the following:
      • Paperbacks published on acid-free paper.
      • Paperbacks with a sewn through the fold construction.
      • Paperbacks with durable cardstock covers.
    • All unbound, undamaged paperbacks will be bound after the third circulation. They shall be sent directly to the Bindery Preparations Unit upon discharge. Preparation of a Monograph binding streamer is only required for titles in non-Western languages. It is recommended that an OPAC printout for the title accompany these items.
    • Softbound books for reserve holdings or anticipating projected heavy use shall be bound before circulation at the collection manager’s discretion.
    • The default binding for softbound items with explicit covers shall be a hard binding with the covers in place. This decision offers the borrower a certain amount of privacy while maintaining the cover art.
    • Damaged softbound books (e.g., pages falling out) must be sent by libraries through the usual Preservation and Conservation workflow with a green streamer.

Other Materials

  • New Items with Accompanying Materials – New materials that come with maps, booklets, or other inserts that cannot support the items shall be sent through the normal Preservation and Conservation workflow directly from Cataloging. If necessary, they will be bound with pockets or bindings appropriate to the material.
  • Undamaged Items – Items that are undamaged shall not be bound. These include the following:
    • Spiral bound items,
    • Materials in binders that are low-use materials, and
    • Other functional, undamaged collection materials.


  • Any pamphlet 3/8″ or less in thickness shall be routed through the normal Preservation and Conservation workflow and pamphlet bound by the Conservation Department.
  • Most items falling into this category should be pamphlet bound upon receipt.
  • Retrospective pamphlet binding projects should be discussed with the Head of Conservation (or designate) before being sent for treatment.

Other Notes

There are certain materials for which library binding is not appropriate. These include:

  • Archival Materials
  • Brittle Materials
    • Brittle materials sent through the Preservation and Conservation workflow shall be routed through the Brittle Books Unit. Subject librarians shall be asked to choose between a series of options including: tying, boxing, scanning and reprinting, filming, or withdrawing and replacing with a pre-existing surrogate. When acceptable surrogates exist, this will be the preferred replacement option.
  • Ephemeral Items – Ephemeral items include those that will generally be replaced or superceded by a more current, complete, or timely version of the original item. Examples of this category include:
    • Any items that will be regularly replaced by a cumulative volume or superceded and withdrawn.
    • Publication notices, etc…
  • Rare and Semi-rare Items –
    • Those with exceptional cover illustrations shall be boxed. Items in this category should be sent through the Preservation and Conservation workflow.
  • Vertical Files

Bindery Preparations Documentation

Binding Handbook

Other Documentation