Category Archives: Boxing Day

What Good Is A Box?

A brittle book from the general collections came in today whose binding is holding on only by its spine lining. The paper and sewing are brittle and several pages are loose. It failed even a single fold of a (very very tiny) double-fold test, so it is too brittle to repair. No problem, we’ll make a box and give the librarian the option of having a digital or paper surrogate made.

What caught my eye, however, was the note she wrote saying “Please repair spine, don’t put in a box since that won’t help.” Until we decide to make a surrogate, boxing actually does help:

  • It keeps a fragile book with loose pieces contained in one place
  • It provides protection from wear and tear
  • It reduces light exposure
  • It alerts a reader that this is a fragile book
  • It keeps a brittle book in the stacks and available for the next use (this book can still be used, as long as the patron is very careful…we trust that they will be)

We try to repair everything that comes to us but sometimes we just can’t and we need to do something else. Creating a protective enclosure is one of those things we can do to keep a brittle book in the collections.

Happy Boxing Day

Traditionally, Boxing Day is celebrated on December 26th. Often cited as having British origins, it is the day the wealthy give to those less fortunate. December 26th is also St. Stephen’s Day on the Christian calendar, and Wren’s Day in Ireland. If you are looking for some nice music to go with these two celebrations, look no further than the Elvis Costello song “St. Stephen’s Day Murders” from the Chieftans album The Bells of Dublin. Hopefully, things are going a little better in your household today.

In the Conservation Lab we celebrate boxing day twice a month. We started this tradition in 2006 as a way to focus on making custom enclosures for the Rare Books, Manuscripts and Special Collections Library. On the first and third Wednesday of the month everyone in the lab works on making boxes. We started with the early manuscript collection and have since moved on to other areas of the collection in need of enclosures. Last fiscal year we made just over one thousand boxes for boxing day with a total of over 2,500 since we started boxing day. For a few examples of items we have worked on, head over to our Flickr page.

As the year winds down and we look forward to 2010, we wish you all a joyous Kwanzaa, and a very happy and peaceful new year. Stay safe, keep healthy, we’ll see you all back on campus soon.