All posts by Beth Doyle

Preservation Week 2022 Is Here!

There is so much great programming this week as we celebrate Preservation Week 2022. We are rounding up some of the notices we have seen, if you have an event you would like to share, please add it in the comments.

ALA Preservation Week has two scheduled webinars this week that are free to attend:
  • “How to Implement Sustainability in your Facility” on April 26th at 1-2pm Central Time. “In a time when sustainability and saving energy is imperative to slowing down climate change, institutions and organizations must become more aggressive when it comes to saving energy. There are a number of sustainable energy saving strategies that collecting institutions can implement, however, these strategies require knowledge of the facility that houses the collection as well as a strong data monitoring program. “
  • “Digital Preservation’s Impact on the Environment” on April 28th at 1-2pm Central Time. “Digital content is created and collected by everyone, not just libraries and archives. Keeping digital content viable requires not only energy use, but also refreshing the digital storage media and technologies. This webinar will explore the energy consumption and e-waste generated in current preservation infrastructures and actions, and review the environmental impact embodied in the full lifecycle of these infrastructures. It will include recommendations for actions and policies to mitigate digital preservation’s impact on the environment.”
  • Follow ALA Preservation Week on Instagram and tag your posts  #PreservationWeek22
  • Check out ALA’s Preservation Week resource page. 
The Library of Congress has an awesome lineup of free webinars this week.
  • Fragments, Discovery and Creating Knowledge Using state-of-the-art, non-invasive examination techniques, Preservation Research and Testing Division (PRTD) staff are collaborating with other library staff to learn more from the material/physical aspects of the Library’s collections. PRTD has been taking non-invasive portable instruments to special collection reading rooms to work with curators and to add value to our collections by answering curatorial and researcher questions. Working with Marianna Stell in Rare Books and Special Collections (RBSC) we have been exploring 12th to 16th century parchment “fragments” to expand our understanding of historic parchment and inks. Additionally, we are also looking at contemporary paper and inks as we work to better understand “at-risk” components of modern collections.
    Monday April 25, 11am. Speaker: Dr. Fenella France, Chief, Preservation Research and Testing Division
    Register Here!
  • Preserving the Legacy of Robert Cornelius and Other Daguerreotypes in the Prints & Photographs Division Daguerreotypes are amongst the earliest photographic records and the Library holds over 800 of these images, including the iconic daguerreotype self-portrait of Robert Cornelius made in October or November of 1839. Ms. Wetzel will provide a brief history of the development of the daguerreotype, an introduction to the work of Robert Cornelius, and explain how her research project on this subject has led to a recent acquisition and generated the current focused effort to preserve the daguerreotypes at the Library.
    Tuesday April 26, 11am. Speaker: Rachel Wetzel, Senior Photograph Conservator
    Register Here!
  • Preservation Digitization Program OverviewThe Preservation Services Division performs a wide variety of reformatting including brittle books, foreign newspaper digitization, as well as tangible media capture and forensics. This presentation will include a brief discussion of each reformatting, plus a sample of online collections.
    Wednesday April 27, 11am. Speaker: Aaron Chaletzky, Head, Reformatting Projects Section
    Register Here!
  • Moving Collections to an Off-Site Facility: Key Things to Keep In Mind This presentation will provide a top level overview of the issues to keep in mind if a library decides to move a portion of their collections to an offsite facility. Key topics include selection of materials for transfer, identification of the offsite facility, shelving schemas, transportation of materials, retrievals and governance policies.
    Thursday April 28, 11am. Speaker: Cathy Martyniak, Chief, Collection Management Division
    Register Here!
  • Fiscal and Organizational Sustainability for Preservation Programs Hear how the Library of Congress Preservation Directorate plans for and maintains its preservation programs. These include a series of reorganizations, completed in 2017 and 2021, and an ongoing series of cost studies. These studies examine total costs of major service areas and support scenario planning around pay and non-pay activities. These combined efforts help to make sure the Preservation Directorate will be able to respond to changes: in immediate requirements and across strategic planning cycles, while making progress on long-term and large-scale preservation needs.
    Friday April 29, 11am. Speaker: Jacob Nadal, Director for Preservation
    Register Here!
Conservation Center for Art and Historic Artifacts
  • “You Don’t Have to be Special to Use Special Collections” is on April 26th at 2pm Eastern Daylight Time.  What can archives and special collections offer an “unaffiliated” and curious public? Join us for a webinar with Independent Historian and Writer Lucie Levine, for a discussion on how any interested person might make use of collections.
Newburyport Public Library 
  • The Library put together two online videos discussing preserving personal collections. These are “Archival Supplies and Storage” and “Archival Storage and Handling Tips.”
Yale University Libraries Preservation Department
  • Need a LibGuide for Preservation Week. Here it is. The “Stressed about pests” looks really good.
Rhode Island Historical Preservation & Heritage Commission (RIHPHC) and the Rhode Island Advisory Commission on Historical Cemeteries
  • RI Historical Cemeteries Awareness and Preservation Weeks programming is free but filling fast. Learn about historic cemeteries or volunteer for a cleanup. There are plenty events to sign up for, check out their calendar.

Phooey Fanuly

Highlighting, underlining, sticky notes, more sticky notes.  If patrons decide to mark their place or organize their thoughts inside library books, it usually ends up coming to Conservation because it is difficult for the next patron to use without distraction.  We get these a lot.

Underline all the things!

“You Don’t Look 35, Charlie Brown” came to the lab because someone has written their notes in the book. Normally if books are heavily marked we will send them to Collection Development for evaluation. If a clean copy can be purchased, we will replace it. I decided we should keep this one, notes and all, because the commentary was sort of insightful. We did replace the cover, as the original was heavily damaged.

We hear you, Lucy.

It also made us laugh, and that counts towards wanting to keep the record of this use, right?

Cookies will ALWAYS solve problems.

Call it “provenance” and have a cookie. Happy Friday to all. May Charlie Brown finally get to kick the football this Superbowl Weekend.

The “Disaster Wiggle” Redux

Remember our post from May 2020 that introduced “The Disaster Recovery Wiggle?” The Wiggle is back for an encore!

I am working on a large collection of paper and photographic records that were recently acquired. These were stored in a wet garage and came to us damp and actively moldy. Pro tip: don’t store your papers in a wet garage.

I divided the records into packs containing 3-4 folders each, wrapped them in plastic, labeled them well, and put them in the freezer. Each package contains a group of photographs and/or documents that should fit into the fume hood for easy drying. Time warp to almost a year later and I am ready to get these thawed and cleaned.

Remember Freezer Friday? It’s also back. This project takes up the top two shelves.
Step 1: Thawing

I remove one package at a time from the freezer and spread the documents out in the fume hood to thaw. The contents are carefully spread out so that the original order can be maintained. When the pages can be carefully separated, I remove the rusty fasteners.

The metal fasteners have no structural integrity left.

This is a good time to remind conservators that they really should keep their tetanus vaccine up to date.

Step 2: Drying

Many of the packages had too many papers in them to all fit on the deck of the fume hood. I had to figure out a way to expand the available surface area for drying without inhibiting air flow. I figured there must be a way to recreate the double-decker drying we set up in May of 2020 (again with the time warp) but with more airflow.

A diffuser panel makes a great second tier drying rack.

We use diffuser panels as a base in humidity chambers because they are sturdy, but have holes in them that allow moist air to move through the paper. I thought, “Why not reverse the process?” I grabbed a panel, propped it on some supports, and voila! A double-decker fume hood drying rack.

With the double-decker drying rack in place, I needed to be sure the air flow was constant at the top and bottom. I cut two pieces of newsprint, grabbed a couple of Plexi Glas weights, and fashioned a “flag” that could wave in the breeze if it was sufficiently windy. Will it wiggle?

The top rack wiggles!

The top rack had no problem with air flow. But the space below was smaller. Will it wiggle, too?

The bottom wiggles, too!

It does! With the flags gently waving I felt that the air drying could commence.

Step 3: Vacuuming

I’m leaving each package in the fume hood for at least two days to thoroughly dry before vacuuming. Once cleaned, I will re-folder the documents and repeat with the remaining 19 packages in the freezer.

More info on preservation your collections

For more tips on preserving personal collections, see our “Preservation Week: 10 Tips for Your Collections” series.

Tips 1-2: Environment and Enclosures
Tips 3-5: Handling, Display, Facsimiles
Tips 6-7: Disasters and Non-paper collections
Tips 8-10: Preservation/Access, Informed purchasing, DIY repairs

 

 

Adopt A Book: The Perfect Gift

Looking for the perfect gift for the winter holidays? Look no further. Donating to the Duke Libraries Adopt-a-Book program not only helps the Library preserve its collections, it makes a great gift for family or friends. Donations are also calorie-free and don’t take up closet space! We have a few new items up for adoption, and a few other titles that are worthy of adoption that have been on the list for a bit.

These three volumes of Don Quioxte have remarkable edge paintings that are still quite vibrant.

three books with edge paintings of castles
Castles galore!

This collection of four titles are all in excellent condition but need custom enclosures to keep them that way. Matthew Alexander Henson‘s A Negro Explorer at the North Pole recounts his 1909 voyage to the North Pole with Robert Peary, where he may have been the first to reach the geographic North Pole. This voyage was one of seven voyages to the Arctic where he served as a navigator and craftsman for Peary.

A collection of classics.

Still in need of adopting are two sets of bindings by H. McLanahan. These may all be written by Bernard Shaw, but the McLanahan bindings are what make these books stunning.

These are so expertly crafted and beautiful.

If you are feeling really generous, there are the beautiful and stunning elephant folio Birds of American by John James Audubon. These bindings are huge, and three are in need of repair. A true statement gift!

Strapping a double elephant folio Audubon.

There are plenty more available for adoption. See our website for the complete list and benefits of adoption. If you can’t decide on a particular item, let us decide with a “Adopt a Box: Conservator’s Choice.” We always have great stuff in the lab that needs attention. We will choose something wonderful for you.

Preservation Underground will be on hiatus until January so that we can rest, recharge, and spend time with our families over the holidays. We hope to see you in 2022. Thanks for reading!

What’s In the Lab: Lovely Illustrations

We have had so many books come through recently with amazing illustrations. From butterflies to coral, travel images to bee flies, our eyes have feasted on some truly lovely images this week.

“The Natural History of Foreign Butterflies” by James Duncan is a beautifully illustrated book filled with vibrantly colorful butterflies. They look real enough to flutter off of the page.

“Le Voyage de L’Isabella au Centre de la Terre” by Léon Creux and illustrated by Paul Coze is a beautiful book inside and out. We fell for this highly illustrated cover depicting a fanciful above- and below-ground image.

東海道五拾三次 / Tōkaidō gojūsantsugi” by 歌川国盛 / Kunimori Utagawa, is a lovely book of woodcuts of Tōkaidō printed circa 1840’s. The original outer box is a traditional Japanese book box with bone clasps, lined with printed paper. These two structures were some of the first I learned as a bookbinder.

Plances de Sebe, Locupletissimi rerum natrualium thesauri” by Albertus Seba is filled with all sorts of amazing creatures. Coral and puffer fish are regulars on the Coral City Camera, a live underwater camera in Miami, Florida. The scientists behind this camera are studying urban coral growth and the effects of shipping traffic on the waterway in Biscayne Bay. I think they would like this book.

Lest you think the only cool stuff we get is from special collections, check out the “Manual of Central American Diptera” edited by B.V. Brown, et. al. Who knew fly parts would be so intriguing.*

Some of these books are are here because the boxing was funded through our Adopt-a-Book Program. Others came from the Rubenstein Library reading room. This has been one of those weeks where we get to appreciate how beautiful books are as objects.  We love our jobs!

*Bonus insect pic from the bookplate in “Plances de Sebe, Locupletissimi rerum natrualium thesauri” by Albertus Seba.

Things Come Apart–On Purpose

Occasionally we are asked to disbind books. Sometimes that is an easy task, but when it comes to library-bound serials from the mid 1980’s it isn’t so easy.

Library binding is a specific process, there is even a NISO Standard for it. It’s a tough, made-to-last binding that includes sewing signatures around sawn-in cords, gluing the spine and applying a heavy spine lining, and creating a cover of heavy boards and durable buckram cloth. I love library bindings, they are indestructible by design and have a utilitarian-ness about them.

But when you have to take one apart it can be challenging, and time consuming. Cutting the threads and carefully cutting through the spine lining between issues takes patience. There is always some damage that must be repaired later. The paper scarfs, or your knife slips and cuts the outer folio.

Issue by issue I take it apart. I see the small knots in the thread where the person who sewed this added a new piece so she could keep going. It took time to bind this, and it was probably one of a thousand books that she bound that year.

The evidence of her hand is a reminder that a skilled trades person put this together. Her sewing is still tight. She made that small knot, trimmed it carefully, and kept going until she had a three-inch thick volume sewn together, ready for casing in.  Taking this apart is a reminder that not everything we do in Conservation is permanent. Sometimes we undo hours of care and labor. I honor the labor that it took to create this volume, even as I take it apart, smiling at each small knot I come across.

A Sticky Situation

Sticky notes.  We know they are useful for conveying information…

book with sticky note on front cover
I think they buried the lede with this sticky note.

They can be good for taking notes…

Book pages with sticky notes
Thank you for not actually writing in our books….maybe?

But they can stain and leave adhesive residue…

Sticky note ink bleed
Not a traditional method of edge painting.

The dyes are also not particularly stable…

book with sticky notes
Sun damaged sticky note. Exactly how long have these been in here?

Although some sticky notes are dang cute…they really can damage paper by bleeding onto the text block, leaving behind a sticky residue, or causing tears in  brittle paper when they are removed.

cat themed sticky note
We removed this purrrfect little sticky note from a book this week.

So please, if you use sticky notes in library books, please remove them as soon as you are finished with the book. That will reduce the damage down the road.

 

 

FY2021: By The Numbers

It’s annual statistics time! As you can imagine Covid-19 influenced our stats for this year.  I don’t think any of us anticipated we would spend the first few months of the fiscal year working exclusively from home, and when we did return it was on a staggered schedule to avoid too many people in the lab at the same time.  That said, we did get a lot done. While treatment numbers are down as expected, we did get a lot of training, conference attendance, and administrative work done from home.

FY2021 Statistics

409 Book repairs
503 Pamphlet bindings
0 Treatments: Other (objects, textiles, etc.)
410  Flat Paper repairs
1,293 Protective enclosures
300  Disaster recovery
2 Exhibit mounts
48 Hours in support of Exhibits (meetings, treatment, installation, etc.)
443 Digital preparation repairs
23.25 Hours in support of Digital Projects (meetings, consultations, handling, etc.)

41 % of production was for Special Collections
59 % of production was for Circulating Collections

62.2% of work was Level 1 [less than 15 minutes to complete;  1813 items]
34.2% of work was Level 2 [15 minutes – 2 hours to complete;  998 items]
3.2% of work was Level 3 [2 – 5 hours to complete;  94 items]
0.3% of work was Level 4 [more than 5 hours; 10 items]

This is the first year that we added a Level 4 treatment (5+ hours). This differs from the old ARL/ALA Preservation Statistics where Level 3 (3+ hours) was the longest hourly bucket you could put treatments into. We felt this didn’t give us enough of an idea of how very lengthy treatments fit in to our overall output.

Creating custom enclosures has always been a large percentage of our yearly output. This year the total percentage of work that were enclosures was 44%, very close to the historical percent average. With the Lilly Renovation Project ramping up again, we expect to see larger numbers in this category for the next couple of years.

Other Things We Did Last Year