General Condition of the Collection
An initial survey of ten percent of the collection revealed much of what would be expected from books published during the 19th century and now well over 100 years old. On leather bindings, joints were cracked and boards loose; on the cloth case bindings, spines were torn. The pages were in fairly good condition with some tears and foxing evident, but most of the collection was published after 1860 and as a result much of the paper is acidic and starting to yellow. But the damage did not stop there.
Due to the nature of these books, most received heavy use before being donated to the library. These books were read and studied and loved by the original owners. This is evident from the names, inscriptions, and doodling found in many of the books. Usually it is just a name inside the front cover or perhaps a short note from father to son. In some cases, though, the markings go beyond the occasional underlined passage and hinder the scholarly use of the book. Examples include the crayon scribblings over both illustrations and text or a stain from a tipped-over inkwell, covering the pages and text almost completely.
Overall, the textbook and Sunday school book collections were in relatively good condition considering their age and heavy use. However, if nothing was done to protect this collection, the deterioration would only hasten and make it even less accessible to scholars and researchers. Already acidic paper would only become more acidic over time and eventually become brittle. Loose pages are more likely to become separated or lost from the textblock. Damaged spines and loose boards will only become harder to repair as more pieces chip away and weaken the overall structure. Treating the books now ensures that they will be available for exhibition for all to see these treasures and for research purposes for generations to come.