All posts by Beth Doyle

Preservation Week: What’s in Your Disaster Supply Closet?

I inventory our disaster supplies and make sure people know where to find them every year during Preservation Week and May Day. We have plenty of supplies and equipment in the main library where Conservation is located. A couple years ago we expanded our supplies to include branch libraries and our Collections Services building.

Tote bin with disaster supplies
Branch Library Disaster Tote

While there are many disaster supply lists available online (see below), we found that for our locations we needed customized supply totes. Our totes are stocked with the basics that are needed to respond to small incidents, or start a response while staff await the disaster team’s arrival. Here is a screenshot of our tote contents. I will probably tweak this list going forward, but these totes have proved useful already by all of our branches.

A pdf of a list of supplies in each disaster tote.
Disaster Supply Tote Contents

Our supply cabinet in Collections Services contains the same supplies, plus it has some handy tools and supplies for Conservation when we are on site doing some minor repairs.

Disaster supply cabinet at central campus location.
Supply cabinet in Collections Services
Online Kit Supply Suggestions

There are a lot of resources out there that will advise you on what In our experience we have found that every site has different needs for their disaster kits. These are great places to start your supply list. If you are in a small institution, these can be a quick and easy way to get some supplies in place, then you can add/subtract supplies later to make the kits your own.

AIC Collections Emergency Kits This presentation from 2021 has a variety of handouts.
Harvard Library Recommended Emergency Supplies An extensive list to get you started.
NEDCC Preservation 101 Disaster Supply Checklist A handy printable checklist.
University Products Disaster Recovery Kit An off-the-shelf option with some basic supplies.
Gaylord Be Ready Recovery Kit Another ready-made option.

What’s in your disaster supply kit?

May Day: Time to Update Your Disaster Plan

It’s May Day, the annual celebration that reminds you to spend a few minutes to make sure your cultural heritage organization is ready when a disaster hits. Be it small or large, any kind of emergency in your institution needs a plan.

Do one thing today to make sure you are ready. That can be making sure the phone numbers and URL’s in your plan are updated; you can look at your disaster kit and make sure your have plenty of supplies on hand; or make sure everyone in your organization knows where they can find a copy of the plan.

Disaster Plan Templates

A 2014 follow up survey by IMLS indicated that only 42% of collecting institutions had a disaster plan. While that was almost double from the initial Heritage Health Survey in 2004, that is still an alarming number. It may take more than 15 minutes to write a plan. There are many templates out there, and once you have that draft the subsequent updates are easy.

The Pocket Response Plan (TM) PREP (TM) templates are one of the easiest plans to adopt. These are customizable templates. We have a phone tree on one side, and we wrote First Steps for staff who will be first on the scene.  This plan folds down into a credit card-sized plan that can fit into a small envelope or your wallet. Handy especially when cell phone towers are out due to storms.

The Field Guide to Emergency Response is a handy spiral-bound book that can walk you through creating a disaster plan. This is a great option for smaller organizations, or for people who like a portable paper option for your plan.

Page from Field Guide with list of contacts
Field Guide to Emergency Response

The Risk Evaluation and Planning Program (REPP) is a series of self-study tools. Originally developed by Heritage Preservation with support from an IMLS grant, the project helps you identify your institution’s risks, helps you prioritize risks, and provides many checklists and worksheets. It requires some time to go through the entire set of worksheets, but you will know a lot about your building and risk factors at the end.

Preservation Week 2024 is Here!

Preservation Week Panel Discussion on Public Digital Collections of Conservation Treatment Documentation

For Preservation Week 2024, Duke University Libraries will host a virtual panel discussion about Public Digital Collections of Conservation Treatment Documentation on Thursday May 2 at 11 am EDT. Conservation representatives from four institutions (The British Museum, The Preservation Lab (Cincinnati, Ohio), Duke University Libraries, and Stanford Libraries) will share their experiences in building and sharing their institutions’ digital collections of conservation treatment documentation. Panelists will introduce their collections and discuss topics such as digital preservation of treatment records, metadata creation, linking to catalog records and finding aids, and potential privacy and copyright issues.

Duke Library Conservation Documentation Archive webpage header.

 

Details:

Cost is free but registration is required
Thursday, May 2, 2024
11:00 a.m.  to 12:30 pm EDT (Starts at 10:00 Central, 8 am Pacific Daylight Time, 4 pm British Summer Time)
The panel will be recorded and the video will be shared with registered attendees upon request.

Use this link to register for the Zoom:
https://duke.zoom.us/meeting/register/tJ0ocOipqD4sEtNIKDJnrtY_5Q6886vPK-gw#/registration 

Panelists:

Louisa Burden, Head of Conservation, British Museum
Ashleigh Ferguson Schieszer, Book and Paper Conservator, Co-Lab Manager, (she/her)
Erin Hammeke, Senior Conservator for Special Collections, Duke University Libraries (she/they)
Ryan Lieu, Conservation Operations Coordinator, Stanford Libraries (he/him)

Collection Links:

British Museum
Preservation Lab
Duke University Libraries
Stanford Libraries

 

Sewing Spiral-Bound Items into Pamphlet Binders

We recently attended a webinar on the binding, preservation, and care of music scores held jointly by the ALA/Core Preservation Administrators Interest Group and the Music Library Association Preservation Committee. Yes, we talked for over an hour about binding scores, and it was amazing!

If you are interested in viewing the recording, you can access it through the University of Maryland digital repository. During the presentation, we mentioned that we routinely sew spiral-bound items into Archival Products Spine Wrap (TM) pamphlet binders.

People asked if we had instructions, which of course has been on my to-do list for a while. So I created this short video demonstrating how we sew these. There is no narration, only ambient noise. Some day I will write up the instructions, but until then, hopefully you can use this video and the quick explanation below to see our method. Once you do three or four, you get the hang of it and it goes really quickly. At the 05:40 mark you can see the “shake test.” These are firmly attached as long as your sewing is tight, and you have the full function of the spiral.

The quick explanation:

With an awl, punch sewing stations. Each station consists of two holes, one on either side of a wire. 3-5 stations is adequate unless your pamphlet is very large.

Image shows two punched holes on either side of spiral wire

Starting at the top, go in through the back and through a wire loop. Go out and back in again, wrapping the wire twice.

This image shows each spiral wire being wrapped twice.

Pull tight, and tie a square knot. Go to the next sewing station and do the same, wrapping the wire twice. Loop the needle under the thread at the spine to create leverage when tightening, and continue along until the end.

Image shows sewing needle looping under some thread.

At the end, once you have looped the wire twice and tightened the thread, loop the needle under the thread above and tie a square knot.

Image shows a square knot.

Finish the pamphlet by removing the paper and wrapping the spine around neatly. Remove the protective blue film.  Voila!

Enclosure Love: The Lilly Renovation Edition

We love a good custom enclosure!

Last week, Crozier Fine Arts was on site to de-install, crate, and move the art and artifacts from the Lilly Library Thomas Room in preparation of the start of renovation this summer. It was incredible to watch this team get all of the work off the walls and into crates in five days.

The custom crates were made off site and shipped to the library. First up was crating the pair of marble lions that stood at the south door of the Thomas Room.

Three movers position a marble lion statue onto wooden supports in preparation of crating.
How do you wrangle marble lions? With many steady hands and a lot of shims.

 

Two marble lion statues in a large wooden shipping crate.
Twinsies!

The statue of Benjamin Duke was estimated to weigh about 450 pounds. It took a lot of time, and careful planning, to get it off its platform and into a crate.

Marble statue of Benjamin Duke in Lilly Library.
Benjamin Duke awaiting his crate.
Two men move the marble statue of Benjamin Duke.
Moving Ben, inch by inch.
Marble statue of Benjamin Duke in a custom shipping crate.
Ben is ready for his road trip!

We have a lot more photos to share from the week. Until we get them posted, please see these other excellent recaps of the move of the art and artifacts from the Thomas Room. You can read more about the upcoming Lilly Closure and Renovation here.

What We Put In Books

Datalogger inside book
Datalogger inside book

I love finding things inside books. We even have a category on Preservation Underground called “What We Find In Books.”  Photographs, notes, flowers, printers waste…they all tell a story. But what if we put something inside a book intentionally?

We wanted to conduct an experiment that would compare the environment inside a book compared to the the environment of the stacks. Luckily we have a discarded book that already has a small hole cut out for a datalogger.  I made the hole bigger to accommodate an Onset HOBO dataloggers. While this book now has less of a cellulosic load and may not compare exactly to other “whole” books, I think it will give us some interesting data.

The book is quietly gathering temperature and humidity data every 15 minutes. We will report our findings at a later date.  Until then, happy environmental monitoring!

 

Quick Pic: It’s Raining Pams!

It’s raining pams in the lab today. Hallelujah!

pamphlets being prepared for the shelf

Check out this awesome cover art. These are all fairly brittle, so we are putting them in envelope-binders.

pamphlets on a book cart

I think there are about a hundred plus some larger publications that will need four-flap boxes.

book truck shelf with half finished pamphlets and half unfinished.

I love the before and after of putting brittle things in pamphlet binders. It’s very satisfying. It’s time for a pamphlet dance party.

Quick Pic: Freezer Friday

Freezer Friday: repair edition.

When we noticed there was condensation around our freezer’s door, we called our awesome repair tech, Jeff McLean. Little did we know this would be a multi-day effort that involved removing the door and the heating mechanism around it, which are both under a bunch of foam insulation. It may look bad now, but Jeff will have this up and running today.

What’s in your preservation freezer?

Hot Property

By Rachel Penniman, Conservation Specialist

Back in early 2020 Henry gave a little peek into a project I was working on. When four architectural drawings of the Benjamin N. Duke House on 5th Avenue in New York City were acquired by the Rubenstein Library they were removed from their frames in order to incorporate them into the Semans family papers. After the drawings were removed from their frames the staff in the Rubenstein Library Technical Services department found they had been mounted directly onto a non-archival foam-core backing. The drawings were sent to Conservation to see if we could remove the poor quality board.

Drawing mounted to foam core before treatment.

 

These drawings were created by a reproduction process called aniline printing which was used in the late 1800’s to the early 1900’s and is identifiable by the distinctive green background color and blueish-black lines. These prints are not on paper but on drafting cloth; a cotton or linen fiber fabric that is heavily starched and rolled to give a smooth surface. Aniline prints fade quickly with exposure to light and are sensitive to heat, humidity, alkalinity, and a number of solvents including alcohols. The starches and additives in the drafting cloth can also be very sensitive to heat and water, and the acidic process of aniline printing degrades the cloth over time making it fragile. So my toolbox of conservator tricks to remove the backings was really limited: no heat, no humidification, and few safe solvents.

I could tell there was another layer between the foam core board and the architectural drawing but it was hard to tell what was going on back there. The backing board was attached with long 2” wide strips of a very sticky, waxy adhesive. I managed to separate the board by hand, lifting it away with a thin spatula and discovered something I have never seen before.

Back of drawing after foam core removed and contact paper revealed.

The entire back of every drawing was covered with big sheets of cream colored, self-adhesive plastic like you might use to line your kitchen shelves. It’s commonly called contact paper, though there’s nothing paper about it. The plastic used in these products is usually polyvinyl chloride which degrades very quickly and destructively over time so it needed to be removed before it caused further damaged to the drawings. Although the adhesive on this product is weak in order to allow you to lift and reposition it during installation on a kitchen cabinet, the drafting cloth was too fragile in many places to just peel it away. I needed to find a way to more gently remove the contact paper but my options were limited. After a lot of solvent testing and experimentation I found that timed application of a small vapor chamber of solvent would soften the adhesive on the contact paper enough to gently lift it away without leaving an adhesive residue behind and without damaging the print or the drafting cloth.

Contact paper being removed with solvent chambers in a fume hood with a pile of removed contact paper on the right.

Working slowly across each drawing I softened the contact paper backing and gently peeled it away to reveal lots of self-adhesive tape had also been applied directly to the back of the drawing. This object was like an onion: full of layers! Some of the tape came off along with the contact paper but the rest I removed with a small spatula and a crepe eraser. I then repaired the tears with a very thin, green toned archival paper. Whoever put the tape down was heavy handed and I often found there were no tears or damage beneath the tape at all.

Many pieces of tape revealed below the contact paper during treatment.

 

The same area with all the contact paper and tape removed and new archival mending in place.

This treatment was a good example of how sometimes less is more. Whoever applied hundreds of inches of tape, layers of contact paper, and huge areas of sticky adhesive to attach foam core backing board surely thought they were helping to protect a valued item. Instead they created a mess that took weeks to undo.

 

Diagram of the many layers in cross section.

 

Front of drawing after treatment completed.

 

Back of drawing after treatment completed.

The best part about removing all of those layers was revealing a manufacturer’s mark printed in pale purple ink on the back that reads:

Copied by
Peerless Blue Print Company
122 East 14th
New York
Phone 168-18th

This mark helps us to date when and where these drawings were created and would have been lost if all those layers weren’t removed.

Manufacturer’s mark previously covered by all the layers.

The property shown in these historic architectural drawings has recently been restored and is now on the market. The 8 bedroom, 10 bathroom, 20,000 square foot home which is directly across the street from the Metropolitan Museum of Art can be yours for just $80 million. Hopefully it’s not also held together with tape and contact paper.

https://www.zillow.com/homedetails/1009-5th-Ave-New-York-NY-10028/143156846_zpid/

 

More Big Boxes

We have been on a Big Book Box roll lately. Last week you read about a boxing project for two large “boxed withs” (is that a real term in library land?). This week we bring you another multi-piece set that posed some challenges. “Whatever You Say, Say Nothing,” by Gilles Peress, consists of three books, two boxes, and a canvas bag. You can read more about this project and watch an interview with the author at Steidl Books.

Three books, two boxes, and a canvas bag on a table.
Prepare for boxing!

Artist books are often a challenge for shelving in library stacks. Rarely are they shelf-ready due to their materials or construction. How do you shelve a bag full of books? Do you separate the pieces for easier shelving and retrieval? Or box them all together to keep the items together? Did we mention this weighs a total of 27.5 pounds?

Time to box the boxes and bags.

We decided to take the boxes out of the canvas bag, and box all the parts in one enclosure that will include a label warning of the weight of the object. This makes it easier to shelve, and easy to put back together in its original form when it is used or exhibited.

All together now…

Now we need to find a bigger bin to send this over to Lilly Library. If your library has this title, let us know how it went to the shelf. We would be really interested in hearing about it.