Every day, 29-year-old Jin Xin from China does work that would seem quite mysterious to most of his peers. His profession is a book doctor.
Examining the torn paper, Jin carefully moistens and smoothes the crumpled pieces with a damp writing brush, and then connects them with tweezers.
"This book was written during the reign of Emperor Daoguan of the Qing dynasty (1644-1911), almost 200 years ago. Over time, it has become very fragile, - says Jin. – You have to be very careful when you do things like this."
Jin is one of five staff members of the ancient books conservation laboratory at the provincial library of Anhui province in Eastern China. Age of book doctors range from 26 to 34, they have devoted their lives to the restoration of ancient books, which will give them a second life.
- My father collects antiques. And I grew up with a passion for old books, " says Jin. To become a skilled restorer of ancient books, "Book doctors," including Jin, must learn ancient Chinese, the technique of framing and printing on wooden blocks.
According to a survey conducted by the National Library of China, until 2007, there were less than 100 professional restorers of ancient books in the country, which had put this profession under threat of extinction.
Everything changed after the country initiated the program of preservation of ancient books in 2007. To date, 25 national schools for the restoration of ancient books have been established, and more than 10 colleges and universities offer courses.
- Restoration of ancient books is like the treatment of patients. Restorers must understand the "diseases" of different books, and then prescribe the right medicine, - said 31-year-old restorer Geng Ning.
- In books, affected from moth or a mouse, usually many tiny holes, which need darn. On more fragile books it is necessary to paste special paper to strengthen them.
The recovery process typically involves disassembly of the books, the identification of specific problems and their appropriate treatment. "The most important principle is to restore the book to its original form," notes Gen.
"This work requires a lot of patience. Sometimes it takes one day to recover only one or two pages, " says Jin.
Restorer through a magnifying glass examines the damaged book
Restorer restores the old page of the book
Restorer prepares a mixture to repair the damaged page
Restorer carefully lifts the page with tweezers