Category Archives: Announcements

New Preservation Development Grant Announced

Big news! A new ALA ALCTS PARS award has been approved in honor of Jan Merrill-Oldham and her undying support for young professionals. You can read more about it over at PCAN, and eventually the details will be on the ALCTS PARS awards page.

For over 30 years, Merrill-Oldham has been a recognized leader in the field of library and archives preservation. She has served on key committees within ALA, the Association of Research Libraries, the Council on Library and Information Resources, the National Information Standards Organization and many others.

She has educated and mentored countless preservation librarians and conservators and her support for students and dedication to the field serves as a model to all of us. This award recognizes Merrill-Oldham’s wide ranging contributions, deep commitment to the field, and her undying support of young professionals by supporting participation in an ALA conference. In September of 2010, Merrill-Oldham announced her retirement after a long and notable career.

Each year, the Jan Merrill-Oldham Professional Development Grant will consist of $1,250 to support travel to the ALA Annual Conference for a librarian, para-professional or student new to the preservation field.  The intention is to provide the opportunity to attend an ALA conference and encourage professional development through active participation at the national level.

The recipient will have the chance to work with a member of the jury to identify relevant programs and interest group sessions to attend, must attend the Preservation Administration Interest Group meeting, and must attend at least one PARS discussion group meeting.

A standing ovation to Jan for her tireless efforts at helping to broaden and grow the field of Library Preservation and Conservation. She has encouraged and mentored so many people, including myself, and we are all better professionals for it. We love you Jan!

Welcome to the Conservation Department: Grace White

We have a new Special Collections Conservator on our staff! Grace White has joined our team.We are especially pleased to have her skills as a paper conservator added to our staff.

We look forward to giving her many challenges from our collections that just scream out for an expert in flat paper conservation (can you say “tons of adhesive tape on giant maps”?).

When asked about her favorite conservation project so far, Grace replied:

One of my favorite conservation projects was spending the winter in Alaska in 2009, traveling among museums that did not have their own conservation departments, in a project partially funded by AIC and the Rasmuson Foundation of Alaska.

I visited beautiful Fairbanks, where I worked at the Museum of the North at the University of Alaska at Fairbanks; remote Eagle, a tiny town of less than 100 people during winter, accessible only by plane but full of history and an impressive archive; and Barrow, the northernmost city in mainland North America and home to the Inupiat people as well as polar bears, snowy owls and arctic foxes.

I walked on the frozen ocean, saw the northern lights, ate reindeer, learned to snowshoe, and watched a dog sled race, as well as treated many paper and vellum artifacts and taught museum staff, students and the public about conservation.  The work was a challenge, so far away from the conservation supplies and equipment I’m used to having, but I loved the experience!

Grace holds a BA in English with a minor in Art from Covenant College. She earned an MA in Conservation of Fine Art, Works on Paper from Northumbria University (Newcastle upon Tyne, UK). Upon graduation in 2002 she went to work for Etherington Conservation Services in Greensboro, North Carolina.

Welcome to our team, Grace!

Welcome To Our New Staff: Jennifer Blomberg

Jennifer Blomberg has joined the DUL Conservation Department as our technician for special collections. She has been with us since February 2011, and has already made over 700 custom enclosures! I’ve promised her some repair work, too, not to worry.

When asked to describe one of her favorite conservation projects, she answered:

The “Herbert Sondheim Company” scrapbook of fashion drawings from the Fashion Institute of Technology has been one of my most favorite conservation treatments to date. Herbert Sondheim ran a dressmaking company that made affordable versions of high-end fashion.

These drawings, many of which are hand-colored on thin tracing paper, date from the 1920’s to the 1940’s and depict works of Vionnet, Chanel, Molyneux and other noted designers. Not only are the drawings visually interesting, the treatment offered many challenges that included collation, systematically removing the drawings from the acidic scrapbook pages without disturbing the water soluble inks, mending and flattening the sketches, and re-housing.

Jennifer has a Bachelors of Fine Arts in Conservation with a concentration in Collections Care, along with minors in Art History and Fine Arts from the University of Delaware. She is currently pursuing a Masters of Library and Information Science from the University of Pittsburgh School of Information Sciences. She is earning her MLIS with a specialization in Archives, Preservation, and Records Management. Prior to coming to Duke Jennifer was a Conservation Technician at the Conservation Center for Art and Historical Artifacts in Philadelphia, PA.

Welcome to Duke Jennifer!

Preservation Week: Save the Date for Ryan Shaw

Written by Winston Atkins, DUL Preservation Officer. For more information on this event, contact him at Winston [dot] Atkins [at] duke ___edu. More information can also be found on the event page.

As part of the Duke University Libraries’ Preservation Week activities, our Office of Preservation is sponsoring a talk by Professor Ryan Shaw entitled “Event as Data: Conceptual Infrastructure for History,” based on his use of technology to examine traditional approaches to organizing knowledge.

This will be an interesting opportunity to hear how faculty use traditional sources and new technology in their research, and to convey their results.  Especially exciting for those of us in preservation, it will offer us an opportunity to see the sorts of presentations of research that we will be called upon to preserve. You can read a more complete description of the presentation here:

Change Blog Readers Can Believe In (Take Our Poll)

We’re librarians: we like information. For the next three weeks, Preservation Underground will be gathering information from you, our reader, in our first-ever feedback poll!

This is your chance to tell us a little bit about your blog-reading habits and what you’d like to see when you visit Preservation Underground. In the sidebar you’ll see a link to our short, five-question poll, and we hope you’ll take a few minutes to help us learn how to create a better, more informative blog. Of course, your responses and comments will be submitted anonymously, so click away!

We’ll be gathering responses through Friday, April 15th, and we’ll be sure to let you know what we’ve learned once the results are tabulated.

All of the other Duke University Libraries blogs will be running the exact same poll, so head over to the other blogs that you read and leave some feedback for them, too.


Image from the Ad Access online collection.

Paste Paper Workshop

Just before leaving Trent Hall, the Conservation staff took advantage of the outdoor space to participate in a paste paper workshop on July 31, 2008. This technique of creating decorative paper using pigments and wheat starch paste is one of the earliest forms used for covers and endpapers. It is commonly found on materials from the 16th to 18th centuries and is still used today.

We used samples from the Jantz collection as inspiration to create, and in some cases re-create, patterns that are both decorative as well as useful for our work. Working outside on a hot and humid summer day was interesting, especially when it rained and we had to move into the women’s restroom in Trent Hall. Luckily for us there was plenty of space in the old dorm restroom to complete our work!  Duke University Library staff may read more about this in the September 2008 IB.

In other news, the Conservation Lab has returned to Perkins Library along with the Digital Production Center and Winston Atkins. We moved on August 25-26th, and have been unpacking and settling into our new space. At some point in the near future we hope to have a formal open house to officially open the new lab.

Coming at you, and fast

Hello readers. We are in the process of moving information from our website to our blog. In order to do so I created posts for each entry and will be publishing them en masse. This means a lot of new (old) things in your RSS reader and they will also show up here. I apologize in advance, but after they are up we will be able to better organize and keep track of our news items. And that is what we are all about as librarians, yes? the better organization and dissemination of information?

I’ll schedule the posts overnight on Friday. You can delete them in one large group from your RSS reader, or you can relive the past with us over a hot cup of joe this weekend.

Image: “Casey Jones, the brave engineer” from DUL’s American Sheet Music collection.

Mellon Awards Libraries $1.25 Million for Conservation

Foundation Award Will Expand Department

DURHAM, NC: The Duke University Libraries have received a $1.25 million grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to create a new senior conservator position to help care for the Libraries’ extensive research collections. During the next three years, the Libraries will raise a matching $1 million to endow the position, while $250,000 of the grant will allow the Libraries to proceed with appointing someone before the endowment is fully funded.

The new senior conservator position will help the Libraries to address a growing need to preserve and make accessible a wide variety of materials that are currently unavailable to researchers or could be damaged by use because of their fragile condition. It will also allow the Libraries’ Conservation Services Department to expand partnerships on campus and throughout the Triangle area.

Demand For Skilled Conservators

The demand for skilled conservation professionals has never been higher, as historical library collections age and technology poses new questions about long-term access to information. A recent survey of Duke’s Rare Book, Manuscript, and Special Collections Library (RBMSCL) indicated that nearly one-third of its holdings require conservation treatments. That translates to a significant need: the RBMSCL has collections of more than 350,000 printed volumes, 20 million manuscripts, and 200,000 photographs, in addition to numerous other formats, from ancient papyri to born-digital records. Many of these materials come with unique conservation needs that must be addressed before researchers can use them.

Duke’s experienced team of library conservation professionals serves as a local and regional resource on a range of conservation-related issues. Conservators regularly collaborate with other Duke units, such as the Nasher Museum of Art and the Center for Documentary Studies, and with partners in the Triangle Research Libraries Network (North Carolina Central University, North Carolina State University, and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill). The addition of a senior conservator will increase the department’s level of expertise and the opportunities for outreach and conservation education to the community.

Mellon’s Previous Support of the Libraries

The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation has generously supported several other Duke University Libraries initiatives. Previous Mellon grants are helping to develop a portal for integrated access to international papyrus collections; a next-generation, open-source library system that fits modern library workflows; and campus-wide institutional strategies for managing and preserving Duke’s vast and varied digital assets.

“We could not realize our most ambitious goals without the Mellon Foundation’s generous support,” said Deborah Jakubs, Rita DiGiallonardo Holloway University Librarian and Vice Provost for Library Affairs. “Our research collections are both deep and diverse in coverage and a powerful draw to scholars working in many disciplines. By improving our ability to preserve these materials for the next generation, this grant is supporting not just Duke, but the entire scholarly community.”

The job announcement has been posted.

Happy Anniversary Preservation Underground!

Today, Thanksgiving Day 2010, Preservation Underground turns one year old. It’s been quite a year, the department turned 10 years old and we celebrated with an exhibit and interviews with the staff (search “Tenth Anniversary Celebrations” and “Ten Years, Ten People” on our blog to find those). We’ve shared some fun projects like Boxing the Devil, scanning the Ehiopic scrolls, summer workshop adventures, and stuff we’ve found in books.

In this season of giving thanks, we thank you for reading and commenting on our blog. I like to think there are many more readers out there than we realize. Thanks to everyone in the department for their hard work and dedication, and for making every day an adventure. Thank you to Amy and the Devil’s Tale for helping us get started a year ago, and for naming the blog. And a big thanks to our fellow bloggers for starting up a wonderful community of like minded people (see our sidebar for some links, and check out all the library blogs we have!). This blog is one of the more fun parts of my job, I love sharing what we do with everyone in the library and out there in the real world.
Happy Birthday to us! To help us celebrate, leave us a note on your favorite post, or tell us what sorts of things you would like to see more of, or wish us a happy birthday . We also like chocolate chip cookies.
Image: Ethiopic wooden cross illustration from the Rare Book, Manuscript and Special Collections Library.