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.
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
We hosted 0 tours of the lab totaling 0 people
We presented 7 Care and Handling Training sessions to DUL staff totaling 5 people
We hosted our third HBCU Library Alliance/University of Delaware-Winterthur conservation intern.
This week was a very busy week in Conservation. We had the floors cleaned and sealed. “Easy enough,” you say? It literally took one week, a moving company, the flooring company, Facilities, Housekeeping, Facilities and Distribution Services, and of course a lot of work from Conservation staff.
Phase 1: Move half of all the things!
Before the equipment could be moved, lab staff had to shift all the books onto carts, label all the equipment and furniture, move sensitive equipment like the encapsulator, etc. Once that was done, the movers came and shifted half the lab to one end.
The fun part was uncovering the floors that have never seen light. This is what the cork looked like when it was installed in 2008!
Even with the light differences you can really see how the cleaning and sealing has improved the look of the floors. They feel so much better, too.
Phase 2: Move all the things to the other side of the room!
Once the first half of the cork floors were cleaned, all the furniture and equipment had to move to the opposite side of the room. We decided not to move heavy things like the two board shears and the flat files.
Mid-week we helped move some paintings. We also worked on several projects that were not located in the lab including some work for the Lilly renovation and helping in Technical Services with some boxing.
Phase 3: Move all the things back, then move some more things!
Lastly, the floors in the store room and photo documentation room got cleaned. To facilitate that work we moved what we could out of those rooms into the lab.
Those floors are now nicely cleaned thanks to Housekeeping. They have never looked this shiny even when they were new!
We are so happy to have this work done. We know it took a lot of coordination and time, and the disruption was real for all the departments involved. Thanks to everyone who helped make this happen!
The ghostly, rhythmic creased pattern in the leather covering this volume caught my eye when the set came through the lab for boxing. I wondered how it was done and if the technique had a name. I consulted with coworkers, but no one had seen anything quite like it. This first suggestion of the rarity of the technique was born out by additional efforts to share this image on social media and search down any leads in the literature on leather decoration. I was invited to compose a blog post about this unanswered question, which we present as an invitation to any of our followers who could shed light on the subject.
For lack of a known and accepted, term, I am calling the leather effect ‘crazed,’ indicating it’s similarity to finishes seen in ceramics and paint finishes. Inside the volume, the leather around the paste down and the leather hinge material are dark green, so this was presumably the original color of the leather, difficult to determine on the more degraded exterior. The leather must have been given this crazing prior to application to the structure.
The book is in Russian, v. 3 of an 8 volume set of Works of Pushkin published in St. Petersburg from 1903-1905. Oddly, only this one volume is full leather with ‘made’ end sheets using an inner hinge of the same leather and paste paper—the volumes before and after v. 3 are quarter bindings using the same leather on the spine and corners with book cloth sides and standard printed end sheets.
A member of a group to which I posted the image shared a photo revealing similar creasing in the leather covering a Spanish binding (Rosy Gray, on Bookbinding Art and Conservation on Facebook). The image she shared was of a much more colorful leather volume, and from an earlier historical period, but looking closely I could see that creasing was indeed part of the effect. She was experimenting to create the effect but had found little to guide her in the available literature.
Most embellishments of leather in binding (such as tree calf) occur after binding, but the crazing of this leather must have occurred prior to the application of the leather. If the methods used in Spanish Calf Marbling of the 17th-18th came more fully to light I suspect this would be true of it as well. Without knowing if I was getting warmer or colder I took the time to track down what information I could find about what is variously termed Pasta Espanola, Spanish Marbling, and Spanish Calf Marbling. English language materials on Spanish bookbinding history are scarce, with just a few examples of this style available for view online and no concrete descriptions of methods.
So the question remains. Has anyone seen this form of leather decoration before? Do you know of a term for it or how it was executed? An interesting question that might follow a definite identification of the technique as Spanish in origin would be how it happened to be used in Russia in the early 20th Century. Dissemination of a technique isn’t always how things come about—sometimes we are seeing completely separate iterations of an idea. It could be worth considering the fact that this volume was bound in a historical period that hosted the International Workingmen’s Association (Second) and various experiments in organizing industrial and trade work across borders, as well as significant industrial strikes.
Mary Yordy, Senior Conservation Technician, is retiring after over 30 years of service to the Libraries, almost 20 of those in Conservation. She leaves us with this unanswered question, and tens of thousands of items that have been repaired or boxed by her hands. You can see the impact of her work on every floor of the library. We will miss her presence in the lab. Thanks Mary! –Beth
We would like to welcome Justus Jenkins, our summer HBCU Library Alliance intern. Justus is a student at Claflin University. He is one of eight students studying preservation this summer through the University of Delaware/HBCU-LA internship program.
This year the program is again being presented online due to COVID-19 restrictions. Interns will be meeting together twice a week with their cohort. Each session will be taught by one of the host sites. We are teaching a class on Archives Conservation Issues, and co-teaching with staff from the Library of Congress to teach some simple bookbinding structures. We will be teaching the Metamorphosis, and this zine.
For his capstone project, Justus has decided to create a portfolio of bookbinding models. Over the next several weeks he will work with Conservation staff to learn Japanese stab bindings, Longstitch binding, Coptic binding, pamphlets, and zines. The University of Delaware sent all eight interns a box of tools and supplies for the term. We put together a box of materials and bookbinding kits and sent that to Justus.
We started last week with a simple pamphlet, and the Japanese stab bindings.
This was the first time I taught a bookbinding class over Zoom. I don’t have a fancy set up at home, but I was able to use a variety of boxes and crates to set up my laptop and phone in a way that worked. I used the laptop camera for my head shot, and set up my phone so that it hovered over the work area. By pinning my “hand cam” and Justus’ cam, I could see both at the same time.
Justus did a great job on his first bindings. He was a patient student as I learned how to do this along with him. We look forward to seeing his next book!
We have all seen sticky notes peeking out the edge of bindings. I have to say, I’ve never seen them put completely inside a book. It’s almost like they didn’t want to use a pen, pencil, or highlighter. Thanks for that at least.
So. Many. Sticky notes. Luckily this paper isn’t very brittle or this would be much worse.
A plea from the underground, if you put sticky notes in a library book, kindly remove them so the next patron can read without distraction.
One of the greatest challenges to digitizing moving-image sources such as videotape and film reels is the enormous file sizes that result, and the high costs associated with storing and maintaining those files for long-term preservation. To help offset this challenge, Duke University Libraries has recently implemented the FFV1 video codec as its primary format for moving image preservation.
FFV1 enables lossless compression of moving image content, and produces a file that is, on average, 1/3 the size of its uncompressed counterpart. Alex Marsh, Digitization Specialist—Video and Craig Braeden, Audiovisual Archivist will give a brief overview of FFV1, and their experience utilizing it to digitize the David M. Rubenstein Rare Book and Manuscript Library’s moving-image assets.
Careers in Preservation: A Panel Discussion (University of Illinois)
Duke Libraries lost a beloved colleague yesterday. Sam Hammond passed away Thursday at the age of 73. Sam was many things. He worked in the library for 41 years including as a music librarian, and as a librarian in the Rubenstein Rare Books and Manuscripts Library. Sam was also a campus carillonneur for over 50 years. He started playing the carillon as a first year Duke student in 1964. He retired from that job in 2018. He also walked to work, and used those walks to pick up litter from the roadside. With every step he made the world just a little bit better.
Sam was a kind soul who always had time to help you when you needed information. When I would visit his office to review something, he would share some of the other wondrous things he was working on. I learned a lot from him. Sam had a sharp wit, and when he told a joke his eyes would shine. He was a true gentleman. But above all, he would routinely tell me how much he appreciated Conservation’s work, and that he was happy I was here at Duke . That always made me feel good, and it was a master class in how to treat your colleagues.
To honor Sam and his contributions to campus, Carillonneur Joey Fala played a variety of Sam’s favorites yesterday at 5pm. You can see the full recital online at Duke Today. Recordings of Sam playing the carillon, and more information on his life can be found online here and here.
As I was contemplating this blog post, I looked for items in the lab that would resonate. Flowers are often given to the family after they lose a loved one. This wonderful book on flowers is on our repair shelf. Tulips have many meanings, love, loyalty, peace and forgiveness. Plus, spring is just around the corner, and after the year we have had, who doesn’t need some cheerful spring blooms?
Thank you Sam. You have left your mark on Duke in ways too numerous to count. We will miss you immensely.