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'Clinic' for damaged children's books opens at library in city west of Tokyo

A staff member at the Tsuru public library in the Yamanashi Prefecture city of Tsuru is seen repairing a damaged picture book on March 27, 2021. (Toshio Odagiri)

TSURU, Yamanashi -- A "surgical clinic" to repair damaged picture books has opened at a library in the Yamanashi Prefecture city of Tsuru west of Tokyo as the branch of a "toy hospital" in the library that repairs damaged toys.

    The "children's book surgery Tsuru clinic" at the Tsuru public library is offering to repair damaged picture books that are brought in on the third Saturday of each month -- the same day the toy hospital operates -- between 10 a.m. and noon, for those who make bookings in advance.

    The toy hospital, Omocha Byoin Musasabi, opened in 2020, and is operated by volunteer staff who have undergone the Tsuru City Council Social Welfare organization's toy doctor training classes.

    A total of eight staff members are in charge of work at the new book repair clinic. One book can be repaired per person for those who make bookings by phone by the previous day. Staff can handle repairs of up to nine children's books, with the assistance of families. Using special tape and glue, the team can fix ripped pages and covers, peeled book spines, and the inside edges of books that connect the pages when they are opened. If the repair is expected to take a long time, the clinic keeps the book while doing the work, and returns it at a later date.

    "We want to provide help through the use of children's books to foster their spirit of cherishing items, so that they can grow up healthily," a library worker said.

    (Japanese original by Toshio Odagiri)

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