The Schimanek board shear (big box on left) and book presses (on right) arrive at the loading dock in 2003.

The Schimanek board shear (big crate on left) and book presses (on right) arrive at the loading dock in 2003.

Equipment Day is our lab’s official birthday. While the conservation lab as we know it began in July 2002, our large equipment didn’t land on the loading dock until spring 2003. It was then that the lab felt “real.”

We’ve come a long way since 2002. We’ve expanded our staff, purchased additional large equipment, and even spent some time in the old nurses’ dormitory during renovation.

Old lab in 2002.

Old conservation lab in 2002.

Verne and Tanya Roberts Conservation Lab 2014

Verne and Tanya Roberts Conservation Lab in 2014 (photo Mark Zupan).

Thanks to the Digital Production Center for scanning our historic photos. Check out what the lab looks like now on Flickr and on YouTube.







Silence of the Yams

“Silence of the Yams”

April 1st marked our 9th annual Edible Book Festival. We raised over $400 for the Duke Libraries Memorial Fund through our silent auction.

Thanks to the following for donating prizes:

A big thank-you to everyone who entered, bid, and helped set up the festival. Thanks especially to Mark Z. for taking pictures. It takes a village to put on this event and we are deeply appreciative of the support we get from our Library and our colleagues.

Winners of the popular vote:

Images of  all of the entries are on Flickr. Which entry is your favorite?

Tagged with:

lab workshopSo much of what we know as conservators is based on learning at the elbow of someone else. Discovering the perfect tip or trick is immensely valuable and can mean the difference between an elegant repair and one that is “good enough.”

This week we held an extended in-house workshop covering several types of leather repair techniques: headcap repair, Etherington tissue hinge, Brock split hinge repair, tacketing and rebacking. Our colleague, Craig Fansler, came up from Wake Forest University to learn along side us.

inserting headcap tissue

Mary shows us headcap fills.

Mary demonstrated reconstructing damaged leather headcaps. This repair needs to not only look good, but it needs to function well and stand up to the flexing of the spine. Mary is very skilled at making these repairs, so she showed us her tips on creating well integrated and beautiful replacement headcaps.

Along the way we discussed the benefits of various adhesives and how to maximize their working properties to achieve the desired outcome.

Erin demonstrated the Etherington tissue hinge, tacketing, the Brock split linen hinge, and rebacking with leather. She showed us some of her prior rebacks to help us understand what the end result should look like, and had models for each of the repairs so we could see those as well. We discussed the benefits and detractions of each repair and why we would select one type of repair over another.

The most important tips we learned during our session were

  • Selection is key to a successful repair, and
  • Repairs should be done in stages and allowed to dry in between each stage. Going slowly and deliberately will lead to better decisions and a better final product.

tacket drilling 2

Erin demonstrates board tacketing.

leather paring_craig

Craig practices lifting brittle leather.

I am very grateful to have such talented colleagues who are willing to share their expertise. Through this sort of collaborative training we can learn new skills and continue the tradition of passing on our knowledge. Craig has written a blog post on the Z. Reynolds Smithy blog. Be sure to check that out.

cleaning audio reels

Cleaning magnetic audio tapes.

This week we worked with Craig Braeden from Rubenstein Library and Zeke Graves from the Digital Production Center to test a cleaning workflow for moldy reel-to-reel audio tapes we recently received from Haiti.

Conservation doesn’t have expertise in cleaning magnetic media, so this was a chance to learn more about these materials and to do some cross training.

The method is simple enough. While the tape is running you gently hold a piece of Pellon to the tape to remove the mold. What is more difficult is learning to evaluate the tape to be sure it isn’t too fragile for this treatment,  holding the tape with just enough pressure to clean it but not too much to damage it while it is moving through the deck, and watching for splices. Craig brought over an old deck and we set it up in the fume hood in Conservation. Zeke helped clean and repair the tape when we encountered previous splices.

Craig has posted a brief video on the Devil’s Tale about this collection and what it will take to clean, digitize and make it accessible.

moldy audio tape

Moldy tape before cleaning.

audio tape after cleaning

After one cleaning pass.

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