As much as I like to imagine that library books remain perfectly clean, the reality is a little different. Sometimes books get gunky. Oil from people’s skin rubs off onto them. Someone spills a cup of coffee on a book cover. A child drops her novel in the garden. In cases like these, libraries have to put a little work into cleaning the reading material.
On April 20, 2017, the Boston Public Library tweeted a video of their ingenious machine that helps them clean books. (You can see the video below.)
The machine is known as a Depulvera, and it really does look a bit like a car wash. Books are set on its conveyor belt and are run through a series of spinning brushes. This cleans the surface of up to 12 books a minute, assuming the person feeding the books into the Depulvera has a good rhythm. Of course the machine doesn’t resolve any major damage to the inside of the books – those chocolate stains on page 72 are going to stay there – but it leaves the covers looking lovely. And have no fear; the library says that it doesn’t use the machine on rare books or books with dust covers, so no books should be damaged by it.
I don’t have many books in need of dire cleaning, but I have to admit that I’m a little jealous of the machine. Maybe I can work on getting one for my local library…
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Image Attribution: Brian Johnson, “Boston Public Library Reading Room,” 2 October 2013, https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Boston_Public_Library_Reading_Room.jpg.