Weeding= New Book Cover

We all hate doing it, but it’s something that has to be done. Weeding. Not everything that is weeded meets the fate that the book below did, but many of them do. Recycled, put in garbage bins, or smuggled out of libraries in the dark of night to avoid patrons scowls. Weeding must be done to a library collection in the same manner one weeds a garden. It helps our collections to grow, stay healthy, and prosper. Today’s blog post is in honor of all the books that just didn’t make the cut, and how to give them new life.

Re-purposing weeded books is not new. In fact people have been coming up with amazing things to do with them for years; making secret boxes, purses, and home decor are just a few. In keeping with the other posts on how to make your own book, I thought we would look at re-purposing the covers of these books!

*If the thought of tearing a book apart is something that makes you nauseous, look away. It’s about to get ugly in here.


  • Scissors
  • Hardcover book that is the size you would like your book to be
  • Envelope opener or another long skinny tool *not pictured here because I didn’t have a letter opener and had to improvise

Lucky for me, this book was not only the perfect size and shape for my vision of my end book, but it also had a mint book jacket cover still attached. If your book doesn’t have one you can skip to the next step, but for those lucky enough to score one, here’s how to remove them!

The librarian that processed these books knew what they were doing and used some heavy duty tape! I couldn’t peel it off without risking damage to the jacket cover, so I used a pair of scissors to cut between the dust jacket and the cover of the book. After it was removed the tape peeled off fairly easily, and any sticky residue left over can be removed quickly with some Goo-Gone.

Once the cover was separated from the book, I slid the book cover out of the dust jacket and VOILA! I now have a dust jacket of my own.

Now, the next step..the phrase “Do what I say not what I do” comes to mind. I have never in my life wished that I owned a letter opener until now, and I fully plan on obtaining one in the near future because you never know when you will need something long, skinny, and sturdy. However, I made due with what I had, and what I had was a butter knife.

You will want to slide the letter opener into the space between the spine and the bound pages. Often times, on well loved books, these areas become naturally separated, however this book was still adhered very well (which may be why it was weeded…lack of checkouts can do that to a book). It was a struggle to get started, but once my “letter opener” cracked the seal, it separated fairly well.

Separating the spine from the pages is just the first step. While it was a difficult step, I underestimated how easy the next part would be. The pages of a book are not just attached to the spine, they also are adhered to the cover via paper and glue.

Separate the pages glued to the front and back cover by using scissors or an exacto knife. Repeat the separation on both sides and your done! If you are looking to get extra crisp cutting lines, I’d suggest using an exacto-knife over scissors. I wasn’t too worried about having jagged lines as I’ll be going in later to straighten them up, plus they’ll be covered by my new book cover!

Now you have successfully given that weeded book new life! You can use the pages from the book to create paper from scratch, or you can do what I did and recycle it.

Implementing as an activity in your library:

This project may be better suited towards an adult audience that can maneuver scissors and letter openers OR you can have library staff select books that are being weeded and tossed out and pre-separate them for patrons to use when building their own books at your library program.

If a book doesn’t make the cut to be re-purposed, you can always snag their dust jacket for patrons to use in case a better conditioned book doesn’t have one!

Build a Book


blissfullybookish View All →

Graduate student in Masters of Library and Information Science programming trying to save the world one book at a time.

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