Bookish DIY: Rescuing Library Hardcovers

Hardcover - Before

I love library sales, and while the one at my local branch runs mostly on donations, library books removed from circulation end up there as well.

The stamped addresses on the inside covers or the edges of the paper don’t really bother me, nor do the bar code stickers.

But I abhor the plastic sleeves used to protect the book jackets.

The good thing is, I’ve discovered that you can remove them! Sometimes, anyway.

Before the book goes into circulation, its jacket is removed and encased in a paper-backed plastic sheet. The newly protected cover is then wrapped back around the book and secured.

Now, here’s where the sometimes part comes in.

All the covers are taped down, which is easy enough to handle (left). However, some of them may be glued down as well, along the edges of the front and back cover (right).

I did remove a glued-down cover, once, for a book I wanted to turn into a journal. Taking the cover off pulled most of the lining paper on the front and back covers with it.

So I don’t do that anymore! But I can show you how easy it is to remove the covers which are only taped down.

Hardcover - Tape Showing

There should be tape holding both the top and bottom of the plastic jacket to the book, both front and back. Either peel it up to release the jacket, or if it’s stubborn (especially on older books where the tape’s been on it for years) carefully slit the tape between the book cover and the jacket. The tape left on the book will be hidden by the jacket, once it’s back on.

Now, you’ve got a plastic-wrapped cover on your hands.

Hardcover - Loose Jacket

The protector isn’t fastened to the original jacket, only wrapped around it. If the adhesive holding the plastic to the paper backing isn’t strong, you can open the seam and lift the jacket out. Or, if that proves difficult, you can pull the jacket out from one end, like a limp onion sliding free of its fried, delicious casing. (Onion rings are a favorite of mine, but I hate it when the onion falls out!)

If the jacket has any library stickers on it, now would be the time to attempt to remove them: my branch sometimes puts genre stickers on the bottom of the spine, and those come off easily, but I’ve had zero luck getting the bar code stickers off.

Hardcover - After

Wrap the poor, nude book back up in the jacket, and you’re done!

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