Today is the grand opening of our renovated building. There are many VIP’s and donors here today to see the new spaces and to hear speeches from dignitaries. We gave a behind the scenes tour for 17 people. While it is more fun to have staff here during tours to talk about their work, it was still a fun and engaging morning.
I set up four zones of work to show. Clockwise from the top left are: special collections conservation, Adopt-a-Book Program, custom enclosures, and circulating collections conservation. People were really interested in each section. They were especially interested in the giant newspaper that Rachel is repairing. Rachel is writing on a blog post about that, so stay tuned. It is an incredible thing.
The mark of success? Two books got adopted today! Now I need to go update that page and find some more adoptable items to put on the list.
While we are out of the lab we have been staying busy with projects that do not require access to water, large equipment, and other tools and supplies that we normally use. At first it felt that we had to stretch to find projects to work on. As it turns out, we have more than enough to keep us, our students and volunteer busy, including some large-scale projects.
We are working on surveying the locked stacks in the Music Library. Rachel and Beth have created and tested the survey tool, and they are now in the midst of collecting item-level condition data. At the end of this project we will write the report and use the data to address some issues in this collection. We already know there is a lot of boxing needs, and there are a fair amount of brittle pamphlets that we need to discuss with the Music Librarian.
We started a re-encapsulation project in the Rubenstein Library map collection. In the past, these maps were encapsulated using the double-stick-tape method. The margins are much bigger than they need to be because they wanted to be sure the maps didn’t get accidentally taped into the polyester. While the impulse was a good one, many of the maps have shifted in their packets and are stuck to the tape. In addition, the library needs to make room in the flat files for items that can’t fit in standard manuscript boxes. Since we are moving into the new space in the fall of 2015, now is the time to address these issues.
We moved the polyester ultrasonic welder to a consultation room in Rubenstein Library to be closer to the maps. We are welding inside the tape, trimming the tape off, and putting the maps into large, flat manuscript boxes. Our students and volunteers have been doing most of this work with support from Rachel and Beth. There are an estimated 1,200 maps in these cabinets. This project will continue through the spring of 2015.
Erin has been working on preparing the next set of Duke Chronicles for digitization. The next set are from the 1940’s-50’s and have been bound together. The paper is fairly brittle, but remains flexible. Erin is going through each volume to stabilize any large tears. It’s also a time to find any missing volumes or pages and alert the digitization team.
Before the move, Tedd prepared several text blocks to the point of casing-in. He’s been working through these as well as making four-flap boxes for the Rubenstein Library.
It’s been a challenge to work in this space, but we are finding ways to be productive. I am finding that being more visible is a good thing for Conservation. We are seeing and talking to colleagues we normally wouldn’t see in the basement. That said, we are all looking forward to getting back to the lab. We will return next week if the construction is on schedule.
It has been a very busy week in Conservation. We are neck-deep in helping with the move of the special collections to swing space. The flat files moved this week, which was a very big job indeed. Everyone in the lab has been helping either with the physical move, preparing materials for transport, or providing security as the materials are shifted to swing space.
The last complicated portion of the move project for us is to finish preparing the newspapers in both the special collections stacks as well as the older Perkins stacks. Erin is the project manager for the Rubenstein newspapers and has been working closely with Tedd, our student assistant Kelly Noel, and with Rubenstein staff to get the fragile volumes ready to move. Tedd just surpassed his 3,200th box! Considering how big some of these newspaper boxes are it is a testament to his ability to “get it done!”
The papyri project is moving forward. We have almost finished boxing the “regular sized” items. This week we pulled the oversized papyri. Everyone in the lab has been helping to create new enclosures for this collection. It is hard to believe this project started one year ago this month. We have already received very positive feedback on our housing strategy, and that always feels good.
Meg has been working on getting the next batch of items ready for exhibit. Her projects involve a lot of tape removal and subsequent stain removal. This is a fairly laborious process. Not only will these materials be more aesthetically pleasing for the exhibit, they will be repaired in a much more sympathetic and stable manner.
Grace has been working on a lot of scrapbooks lately. The one she finished this week had a lot of fold-outs that were mis-folded and damaged. It took a lot of patience to get through it, but it is now ready for its binding to be repaired. She finished several projects last week, so this week she is starting on new ones. One is particularly fabulous, but we will save that for future post.
Jennifer has been working double time pulling materials for Tedd and keeping track of all the work we are doing for the renovation project. As our registrar she keeps our lab log accurate, and for that we are all eternally grateful. We also got a batch of materials in from the Digital Production Center (DPC) that needed attention, so she has been doing a lot of paper repair this week. Erin has also been repairing items and getting them ready for digitization. She has been working closely with Josh Hager, who works on the Content, Context and Capacity project, to repair some manuscripts that were stuck together. They now look great and are ready for imaging.
Mary completed this really interesting serial set of circa 1830-40’s French plays. They were in terrible shape when they came in. She rebound them using the Princeton 305 technique, which is fantastic option for tight-joint bindings. Mary also presented two Care and Handling training sessions to student assistants in Circulation. She trained about two dozen students on proper handling methods and what materials they should set aside for Conservation.
Me? I’ve been helping move the flat files, I finished prepping the Gothic Reading Room materials, I’ve worked on all sorts of “management-y” things (emails, paperwork, receipts, etc.). I did some mold removal on one box of J.B. Matthews papers and have four more to go (in this batch…there are dozens to do). Basically I tried to keep the wheels on the conservation bus turning for one more week as my staff gets all this amazing work done. I am very lucky to be surrounded by such talented and dedicated people.
Happy Halloween everyone! To celebrate we would like to introduce you to “Fred” as we have named him. This German anatomical model dates to the 1930’s or 1940’s and is from the History of Medicine Collection.
Fred comes complete with removable lungs, liver and intestines, just the thing for today’s festivities. Jennifer is figuring out how to build a box for him to keep all his guts in place.
Have a safe Halloween! Watch out for zombies lurching and little children crossing the streets, and brush your teeth after you steal share your kid’s candy.
We have been so busy with renovation projects that we forgot that today was a scheduled 1091 post. Instead of a long, thoughtful expose on a current conservation topic, Melissa and I will share some images of what is happening in our labs today. Think of it as a glimpse behind the scenes.
Parks Library and Preservation Underground will be back next month with another riveting 1091 post. Thanks as always for reading, and be sure to click over to Parks Library Preservation to see what is happening in their lab today.
Clockwise from upper left: large phase boxes drying under bricks, ledger bindings being rehoused, the lab (everyone’s at lunch!), making four-flap boxes, Lilly Current Lit books getting CoLibri covers.
Bonus pic: Look what showed up in my mailbox! A wonderful, home-made pop-up note to thank me for some consultation I did for someone whose cat damaged some of their papers.
Can I use the word “squeeeee!” in a professional post?
We are finding many challenges in preparing our materials for the upcoming move. Erin Hammeke, Special Collections Conservator, shares the following find from her work as the project coordinator for the ledger project.
As part of the enabling project we are working in our ledger collection to prepare these materials for the move. The Mooresville Mill manufactured cotton, wool, and synthetic fabrics in Mooresville, North Carolina, from the late 19th century to the mid-20th. When the company’s stocks were sold back, they were cancelled and glued onto the stubs bound into a ledger book. The stock certificates were also glued in, leaving the book with a fore edge 2-3 times the thickness of the spine. We started calling these ‘swirl books’ because of their exceptional shape. These items really seem more akin to sculpture than book bindings.
We consulted with the head of collection development in the Rubenstein Library and we agreed that treatment would be too time-consuming of an option before the move. We decided to house the swirl books as they were. Needless to say, these items posed unique shelving and housing challenges to us.
Our technician, Tedd Anderson, bravely met the challenge. For each ledger, Tedd created a wedge to accommodate the shape of the original so that they would fit inside a custom phase box. They can now be shelved safely and are protected from further damage. These will go in our conservation treatment request database for future treatment.
As part of the Enabling Project we have reached the ledgers section. Our ledgers contain just about any type of western-style binding (sewn, posts, mechanical, etc.) and binding material (leather, cloth, corduroy) you can imagine. They can be very small, or so big they require two people to carry them.
Erin is the project leader on these (pictured here with some of the ledgers). We are reviewing the condition of each ledger to determine whether it needs an enclosure to keep it safe during the move. Our options for enclosures include a Tyvek envelope, customizing a pre-made box, or making a custom enclosure or wrapper.
One of our favorite collections so far is the Sir Thomas Wardle Papers (fyi, William Morris collaborated with Sir Thomas!). These ledgers contain ink and pigment recipes as well as testing observations. One page in particular caught my attention for its cochineal information. You might recall that cochineal has been in the news lately.
This ledger is a prime example of what we mean when we say that in addition to the contents, the bindings themselves may contain valuable information. Not only do the binder’s tickets tell us something (who made it, where and when), but the way these are put together and the materials the binder used also tells us something about the manufacturing norms of the stationer, textile, leather and paper industries at a particular time and place.
I could go on and on about the treasures we are finding in our ledgers! There are more images on Flickr, please take a look. You might also be interested in the Rubenstein Library’s images and their blog posts about the renovation project. We are engaged on all fronts in preparing our collections for the upcoming move.
The TTV came in a small box with all of the models inside. Obviously a box half the size of a Twinkie would disappear in the stacks and make access difficult. While these models aren’t fragile per se, they are delicate and the little houses had no real protection.
Our goals for the final housing were three-fold
The new enclosure had to be big enough to go to the stacks
Each little house needed its own compartment for safety and security
You needed to be able to lift out each model with your giant fingers
I thought this would be easy, but it took a lot of trial and error to figure it out. I grabbed a standard Metal-Edge box meant to house cabinet cards and started experimenting. Here’s what I did:
Created a tray with a compartment for each house
Built up the inside so that the models would be level with the top of the box
Inset the original box so it was at the same level as the models
Lined the lid with Volara to provide a cushion should they get shaken
Labeled the box with big “Fragile-Do Not Tilt” labels
The Final Box
While each model can still move around in its compartment, they don’t knock into each other and you can still get your fingers in to take them out. You can also quickly tell if one is missing since each compartment should be occupied.
Although I would likely do something a bit different if I were asked to house this again, I think this enclosure achieves the goals and will provide more protection than the original box.