Kansas ‘Master Book Mender’ Finds New Life in Old Books

Meet Grant Poole, the 97-year-old who casually taught himself to be the resident book-mending expert for his town library.

Quarter-time “master book mender” Grant Poole may occasionally need a hand getting up from or sitting down at his desk, but such trivial obstacles will not keep the ninety-seven-year-old craftsman from an established position which he has held for close to thirty seven years — fixing and tending to the book stock at the Manhattan Public Library in Manhattan, Kansas.

Poole performs triage on the weight of the world’s knowledge for as long as readers continue to put wear and tear on beloved books (i.e. reading), and he’s logging all this time in volunteer hours. Replacing spines and gluing pages has a mirrored therapeutic affect, apparently, because Poole says all the meticulous work keeps him young, just as he is restoring life to books the community wants. Neither is in mint condition nor absolute distress, but their pages are turning for now.




“I’ve never found the book that I couldn’t mend,” Poole said in an interview with CNN. An impressive feat, considering Poole spent his early years at the library moving among positions that had nothing to do with looking after books. Poole literally taught himself to master a skill that no one asked him to learn, just to do his part for the town library.

Depending on the severity of each book’s condition, not every item Poole mends goes directly back into the main stacks. Some of the books he mends come from community members who want the reliable library staple to mend their things. Other books fall into Poole’s attention that he re-distributes into piles for the library book sale.

Repairs made on library books can be complicated because there’s much more “stuff” — barcodes, endpaper pockets, thick plastic strips — to address without doing further damage to the book.

Luckily, the master book mender, with 523 hours logged just last year, has no plans to retire.


Featured Image Via KSNT.