Successful Surgery on 112-Year-Old Books

Lawyers today keep case files securely on their computers, or sometimes on paper in file folders. Sometimes they list cases they have argued on their website, as part of a portfolio demonstrating their expertise.

In the early 1900s, the law firm of Butler and Osborne took briefs and supporting documents from cases they had argued before the South Carolina Supreme Court and combined them into leather-bound volumes that served two purposes: recordkeeping and display.

These volumes eventually made their way to the South Carolina Legal History Room at the University of South Carolina Law Library.

Unfortunately, after more than 100 years, librarians noticed the leather crumbling. The books were quickly losing their structural integrity. Repair work had to be done.

The spine and covers had to be removed as part of the preservation process.

One volume’s spine had been torn, and delicate surgery was required.

Only the “before” and “during” photos are shown above. To see the repaired volumes, visit the Coleman Karesh Reading Room in the law library, and look in the glass display case furthest to the left.