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Binding books by Peter Hofstad
time tracks


Binding books

Down the Corridor


Book binding at the UNT libraries has a more than 75-year history with the university. When the North Texas bindery was founded in 1928, it provided the growing college with a cheap and local source for binding unassembled educational materials and repairing older texts.

"The bindery itself wasn't that big. So when we were all working on the floor, it got pretty crowded," says Dale Phillips ('58), who worked at the bindery for more than 28 years, starting as a student assistant in 1956. He left the university in 1958 but came back to manage the bindery from 1972 to 1998.

Demand for the bindery's products increased steadily throughout the 1960s and '70s. In 1977 the bindery had a record year, producing the largest annual output in its history — more than 22,000 books.

Cherri and Candace Rowe
The North Texas bindery, founded in 1928, provided a cheap and local source for assembling and repairing texts.

The shop, in the basement of the Information Sciences Building, had a multitude of machinery, including a milling machine to trim the pages, an over sewing machine to sew the spines of books together and many "homemade machines" tweaked by Phillips and other bindery staffers.

"I had to put a lot of guide wires and rails onto the machines to keep them from getting out of alignment," Phillips says.

In the mid-1980s, the bindery was overhauled with new equipment.

"The university installed a computerized embossing machine and a spinning wheel printer," says Phillips. "Once we learned how to use it, it made things go a lot quicker."

But by the time the bindery had been modernized, demand had dwindled drastically. Most books used at UNT were either bought from the publishers already assembled or taken to a private company for binding. By the mid-1990s, the bindery had been moved off campus, and in 1998 when the budget was cut, the bindery all but disappeared.

However, its legacy lives on. Countless copies of graduate theses and student compositions wear its tell-tale stamp on their inside covers.

Its products line the libraries' shelves and provide reading and study material for current and future generations of North Texas students.

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