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Bookbinder marks half-century repairing volumes

April 15, 2014
Associated Press

HOPWOOD, Pa. (AP) — Larry Goldberg grabs a nearby paintbrush and gently dips it into a slow cooker filled with glue. He then takes the brush and gracefully sweeps over the underside of a book cover reminiscent of a ballerina gliding across the stage. Even though Goldberg uses paper, glue and metal fastenings on his books, the secret ingredient that binds everything together is love.

"These (books) are like my kids," he said while working in his Hopwood workshop. "I take a lot of pride in them."

For more than 50 years, Goldberg has been hand binding (case binding) and repairing books, a job that he is passionate about because of the role books play in life.

"Books are in our lives every day. You can hardly get through a day without touching a book that was bound by someone," he said.

He had his first binding experience at the Fayette County Courthouse.

"I didn't know there was such a thing as a bookbinder," said Goldberg.

He was looking for a job and went to the courthouse, where he was introduced to the then-bookbinder Metri Mounyar.

"He started showing me how to do something, I would do it, he watched," said Goldberg.

It got to the point that Goldberg would do a lot of the jobs on his own while Mounyar would watch from a distance while working on crossword puzzles. After a while, Goldberg said he had gained enough experience at doing the binding that Mounyar left the position to Goldberg.

"They hired me, and he (Mounyar) showed me how to do this, and 50 years later I am still doing this. He (Mounyar) was like a grandpa to me," said Goldberg, his voice crackling from emotion.

Through his many years of binding, Goldberg has had experience with different types of books, ranging from public libraries, thesis and dissertations from California University of Pennsylvania, histories of Fayette County and even family Bibles.

"The old Bibles; a lot of them have family histories. That was a huge deal for me (to work on them)," said Goldberg. "Some of them go back to the 1700s."

At his workshop, the garage attached to the family's home, Goldberg gave a demonstration on how the bookbinding process works. From start of finish, he uses a wide variety of tools and equipment that he says can be found in a standard toolbox.

Even though the tools might be "run of the mill," the care and passion that he puts into every job is not.

"I try to get it to where I am satisfied. So, I figure if I am satisfied, everyone else should be," said Goldberg as he was gently flattening backing to a book.

Goldberg takes so much pride in the work that he does that he will often visit the Fayette County Courthouse to check up on the books and see if they need to be repaired.

"I don't want to see them abused," he said.

In addition to bookbinding being a labor of love for Goldberg, it has also been a family affair.

Goldberg's son has said that he wants to take over the business when he retires from his job as an engineer, and his wife will come out to the workshop and often lend a hand.

Even when the family is not physically present in his workshop, there are reminders of them everywhere, including photos and pictures lovingly drawn by his grandchildren.

As for the future of his craft, Goldberg hopes to still be binding books for many years to come.

"I hope I am still doing it when I am 90, but you never know," he said. "I hope I can do it for many years."

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Online:

http://bit.ly/1jHpewz

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Information from: Herald-Standard, http://www.heraldstandard.com/

 
 

 

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