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So, I’m a postgraduate student, and I checked a softcover textbook out of my university library for my personal studies. When I pulled it out of my bag today, I noticed that the bottom corner (on the side away from the bindings) had begun to curl forward, possibly from the weight of the book resting on its bottom edge in my bag.

Are there any methods of mitigating or repairing the damage being done to the book? Would it be possible to prevent this sort of damage from occurring in the future? I did a Google search, and all I saw was dubious “life hacks” talking about books damaged by humidity (and while it is rather warm and humid here, I’m not sure if that’s playing much of a role here).

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    I suggest you ask people at lifehacks.stackexchange.com – Orion Feb 20 '20 at 10:54
  • @Orion I figured that this would be a better place to ask, since if there's anywhere on SE professional librarians might visit, it'd probably be here. – nick012000 Feb 20 '20 at 10:55
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    Former academic librarian here. Don't try to fix it yourself. This sounds like it's within the range of normal wear and tear, so it's extremely unlikely you'll be billed for damage. If you want, fess up to the desk when you return it, but they'll probably tell you not to worry. The library will take care of it. Next time, treat library materials more carefully. Other users and the library budget will thank you. – Elizabeth Henning Feb 20 '20 at 20:09
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Don't try to repair the book. If you're an honest person, point out the damage when you return the book.

Libraries repair books. They have the tools and expertise to do it properly, without causing greater damage. They do it in a way which will preserve aesthetics and prevent future damage. And they treat it as a cost of doing business: they aren't going to yell at you, and except in extreme cases they're not going to bother charging you.

In the future, don't put things that shouldn't be bent (like softcover books) in an environment where they'll be bent (like the main compartment of a backpack).

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Since you can't do anything which would permanently alter the book, why not try putting the book in a box before placing it in your bag? If you have a large enough Tupperware* container, that would probably do the trick.

*Other brands of plastic lunchbox are available.

This answer was inspired by this Tweet: https://twitter.com/TomekMoss/status/1230117769565392896?s=20

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Damage can be mitigated with library bindings, which are designed to protect heavily used books.

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  • Okay, that's something a library could do to protect their books, but is there anything I can do as an end user? – nick012000 Feb 20 '20 at 8:53
  • @nick012000 You're probably forbidden from taking action under your library's terms and conditions – user2768 Feb 20 '20 at 8:58
  • Curious. I wonder how much it costs to put a book into library binding "after market" as compared to the cost of the new book. And whether a library would be open to such rather than charging replacement costs for a damaged book. – puppetsock Feb 20 '20 at 14:43
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    @puppetsock From my personal experience, many library books have library bindings. I've always suspected they are purchased as such, but I can't be sure. Regarding, charging replacement costs for a damaged book, that becomes problematic when libraries haven't taken adequate precautions to protect books in the first place. – user2768 Feb 20 '20 at 15:18

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