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Beagle Books' Geraedts adds binding to index of service

"Bookbinding provides something meaningful," said Jennifer Geraedts, with her hot stamping press. "And I enjoy it along the way... I love people sharing a piece of family history." (Jean Ruzicka / Enterprise)

Beagle Books has added another B to its title: Bindery.

A new sign - Beagle Books and Bindery - will soon display bookshop owner Jennifer Geraedts' undertaking - rebuilding and replacing covers for existing books.

"We try to preserve as much as possible," she explained of the preservation and restoration process. "We create a hybrid of the original."

When Geraedts became interested in book repair, she researched sources to learn the process. A literary center in Minneapolis was offering classes, but she hoped to find a local person to serve as her tutor.

She found David Farkell of Detroit Lakes, ironically via Google. She called him in February.

"David was in love with the printed word," Geraedts said. The journalism graduate had worked as a reporter, college professor and, at 82, the Prairie Bookbinder.

Farkell agreed to tutor her, come summer. But after meeting six times, he died, with some skills yet to be shared.

Shortly after his death, Farkell's family called and offered to sell Geraedts the equipment - including an 1899 guillotine (for cutting pages), hundred of pounds of lead letters, antique irons that act as weights, a hot stamping press, other presses originating in West Germany, book cover fabrics and a drawer with 41 "oops."

"I've made one contribution so far," Farkell's protégé said of the drawer of errors.

To date, Geraedts has resurrected a dictionary, atlas and a book of poetry, that's been part of a family for decades. "I love people sharing a piece of family history."

But she's not yet built the confidence to tackle heirloom Bibles. That's likely to be after tutelage from a former Farkell student in Alexandria.

The market for bookbinding exists, she's found.

When she hosted a Chamber After Hours event, faces lit up.

"I have this old book..." people told her.

Farkell's role as tutor was abridged, but he left Geraedts with some universal counsel.

A handwritten list advises "patience, caring for author and owner, visualization, attention to detail, perfectionism, courage (try something new) and planning (if this doesn't work, then what?).

He urged "stick-to-itive-ness, despite boredom; reverence for tradition, to a point; respect for the book; respect for the book owner; original preservation, in so far as possible; precision - when important; consistency in practice; creativity in design/implementation" - and (lastly) - "acceptance of modern technology."

"I think he may have planned to sell me the equipment," Geraedts said of a realization after his death.

"He was worried the craft was disappearing," she said. "He was hoping someone would pick up the reins.

"When I run into snags, I yell 'help,'" she said of the void created by his death.

But then she recalls his foremost advice: "Patience." And she waits for the glue to dry.