We have posted about hurricane awareness and disaster response before. With two major hurricanes hitting the United States so far this season, it is time to round up some information for those hit by these and other storms.
Help for Cultural Institutions
The National Heritage Responders (NHR) – formerly the American Institute for Conservation – Collections Emergency Response Team (AIC-CERT) – responds to the needs of cultural institutions during emergencies and disasters through coordinated efforts with first responders, state agencies, vendors and the public. Volunteers can provide advice and referrals by phone at 202.661.8068. Requests for onsite assistance will be forwarded by the volunteer to the NHR Coordinator and Emergency Programs Coordinator for response. Less urgent questions can also be answered by emailing email@example.com.
Cultural institutions in FEMA-designated disaster areas of Texas, Louisiana, Florida, and other impacted states and U.S. territories can apply immediately for NEH Chairman’s Emergency Grants of up to $30,000 to preserve documents, books, photographs, art works, historical objects, sculptures, and structures damaged by the hurricane and subsequent flooding. Applications for emergency grants are available here (Word Document).
FEMA–The Heritage Emergency National Taskforce and the Smithsonian Institution have written documentation on saving personal treasures in multiple languages.
Other useful information
National Archives–If you were impacted by a hurricane and need priority service to obtain or replace proof of U.S. military service, you can contact the National Archives National Personnel Records Center. Information can be found on the NANPRC website.
FEMA–A good list of what entity you should contact if you need to replace important papers such as birth certificates, green cards, passports, etc., can be found on the FEMA website.
We couldn’t let this moment go by without participating. We put all our conservation skills to work making DIY viewers at the last minute.
The best part was being surrounded by people gathering in peace in the name of science, and watching an amazing celestial event. Everyone was sharing viewers and glasses, talking with strangers, having fun, learning things, sharing a moment. A brief glimpse of the best of humanity.
It’s the end of the fiscal year and time to write reports. We had a very productive year. The only metric we track that didn’t increase this year was mold removal. It’s difficult to be sad about that.
1,625 book repairs (up 90% due to a very large acquisition project)
1,735 pamphlets bound (up 40%)
11,007 flat paper repairs (up 390% due to a very large digitization project)
7,018 protective enclosures (up 23%)
1,333 disaster recovery (down 56%)
22 exhibit mounts created (up 47%)
135 hours of time in support of exhibits (includes meetings, treatment, installation, etc.)
339.25 hours in support of digital projects (includes meetings, treatment, evaluation, etc.)
66% of total work was for Special Collections
34% of total work was for Circulating Collections
82% of work was Level 1 [less than 15 minutes to complete]*
17% of work was Level 2 [15 minutes – 2 hours to complete]
1% of work was Level 3 [more than 2 hours to complete]
Looking at a graph of the past few years of production you can see the impact that digital projects have had on our work (mostly working on archival collections, aka “flat paper repairs”). This trend is likely to continue.
*This number is skewed from past years due some very large projects that needed a lot of minor repairs.
Not Everything Is A Statistic
We gave tours to 121 people last year.
We created a new Sewn-Board Workflow for fine-press bindings in our circulating collections.
We had a wonderful pre-program volunteer who worked with us for almost a year to learn more about library conservation and treatment.
We worked with library colleagues to set up the new multi-spectral imaging equipment; and worked with campus resources to CT-scan some objects in the History of Medicine Collection.
We hosted a “preservation of digitally printed materials” workshop taught by Daniel Burge, Senior Research Scientist at IPI.
Conservation is often asked to take archival documents out of frames. This process can be tricky due to the myriad ways framers put things together. It can be a bit like Forest Gump’s box of chocolates…you never know what you are going to get. As you take the frame apart layer by layer, you hope that nothing is stuck to the glass or adhered to acidic cardboard. A lot of times you don’t get that lucky. The thing is, you never know until the very end…
As I am pulling rusty fasteners from these frames I am reminded that everyone working in the lab really should have their tetanus shot up to date. In addition, you really shouldn’t work with rusty nails and framer’s points without protecting your hands. Don’t be like me.* I’ve asked Rachel to put cut-resistant Kevlar (R) gloves on our next supply order.
*Yes, I have a broken finger. Even so, conservation work must go on.
Today was a busy day in the lab. We had 25 people come through on three tours, and we had to help set up for a tour in another department. Today is also the due-date for our performance evaluations. When life gives you a Friday like that, finding a beautiful illustration of cephalopods is a gift. I especially like the center illustration of the eyeballs.
This is one book in a serial on biodiversity. It is French, dated 1889, and beautifully illustrated. Some volumes in this series are available in Hathi Trust. I also found the page on mollusks, which was equally beautiful. This one is getting a custom box to keep it safe.
I talked with one of the Music Library staff this week. They had a damaged microfilm and wondered if we could fix it. The film had lost its reel, and someone in the past folded it into about six sections and stuffed it back in the box. This caused it to crack at the folds. Luckily we have the terrific Sonya in Microforms who is an expert in microfilm. I asked if she had some splicing tape, and indeed she did. She gave me a tutorial on how to use it along with a roll of splicing tape. Until today, I had never spliced microfilm, nor did I know the sprockets on 35mm microfilm don’t really matter in terms of how the film physically runs the through the machine (unlike motion picture film–the things you learn!).
I came back to the lab and carefully eased out the folded sections (who said being a photo major in the ’80’s would never prove useful?). I then matched the pieces and spliced it together at the broken folds. I put the roll on a new reel and sent it back to the Music Library. Hopefully it will run through the reader now without further damage.
The other thing I learned today was how to change the toner in our copy machine. I’ve never had to do that before today, either. It’s been an amazing day of skill building.
Our new exhibit focuses on how a book is made “from the ground up.” In the exhibit you will see examples of binding structures dating from the 4th Century C.E. to the 21st Century C.E. Also in the display is a selection of tools used by bookbinders, and an overview of how a book is made.
The exhibit is open during regular library hours. It is located on the first lower level of Perkins Library, just outside the Verne and Tanya Roberts Conservation Lab (Perkins Library 023). Please stop by and let us know what you think.
Sometimes I get a wonderful surprise when I’m doing the final quality check for items leaving the lab. This item that Mary recently finished is a good example of the value added that an in-house conservation lab provides. By repairing these in the lab, we can be much more thoughtful about saving unique and interesting bindings. The book is now headed back to the shelf and ready for its next reader.