Category Archives: Collaboration

Preservation of a Different Kind

This post is only slightly off topic, but it is preservation related of a kind. Our University Archivist and myself went over to Duke Hospital to take part in a compression-only CPR class today. This session focused on what to do if an adult or teenager collapses due to cardiac arrest.

CPR manikin
Resusci Annie has been replaced by a half-manikin androgynous bot. It has a dial in the back that must adjust the resistance, it says “adult” and “child.” Was I the only one that flipped it over to look at the back?

We learned the proper way to apply compressions following the “three C’s.”

  • Check to see if the person is conscious
  • Call 911; and if there is an AED in your building, ask someone to get that, or get it yourself
  • Compressions at at least 100 beats per minute

If you need help keeping the 100 beats-per-minute rhythm, the American Heart Association has put together a Spotify list of music with the perfect beat to do CPR compressions. We also learned how to use an Automated External Defibrillator or AED, which led me to wonder if the library has one. I’ve sent an email to our building security manager to find out.

There is a very brief video by the American Heart Association that demonstrates the compression-only CPR technique.* You do not need to be certified to do this method of CPR, and it does not involve checking for a heart beat, sweeping the mouth, or providing breaths.

CPR Trained
My new sticker for my office window.

At the beginning of the class we were asked to share this information with eight people, and ask them to share as well. Consider yourself part of my eight people. Now go and share!

*A Facebook reader sent us this link to the British Heart Association’s compression-only CPR video with Vinnie Jones. Very funny.

 

 

Quick Pic: Examining Scrolls

examining a scroll
Examining a long Japanese scroll.

Today we got to use our new sit-stand table to roll out a Japanese scroll. We are excited about our new tables, they replace low tables that were immobile and difficult to work on. These have wheels and fit through the doors, so they can go anywhere in the lab and can adjust from a sitting height to chin-height. They are perfect for large objects like this Japanese scroll.

Here left to right are Lauren (Rubenstein), Grace (Conservation), Andy (Rubenstein) and Kris (DUL International Studies) are all helping to identify this object. I love when we can bring in experts from around the library to discuss treatment and housing options. Conservation is truly interdisciplinary in that way, and its one of the most satisfying parts of our work.

Cleaning Radio Haiti Reel-to-Reel Tapes

cleaning audio reels
Cleaning magnetic audio tapes.

This week we worked with Craig Braeden from Rubenstein Library and Zeke Graves from the Digital Production Center to test a cleaning workflow for moldy reel-to-reel audio tapes we recently received from Haiti.

Conservation doesn’t have expertise in cleaning magnetic media, so this was a chance to learn more about these materials and to do some cross training.

The method is simple enough. While the tape is running you gently hold a piece of Pellon to the tape to remove the mold. What is more difficult is learning to evaluate the tape to be sure it isn’t too fragile for this treatment,  holding the tape with just enough pressure to clean it but not too much to damage it while it is moving through the deck, and watching for splices. Craig brought over an old deck and we set it up in the fume hood in Conservation. Zeke helped clean and repair the tape when we encountered previous splices.

Craig has posted a brief video on the Devil’s Tale about this collection and what it will take to clean, digitize and make it accessible.

moldy audio tape
Moldy tape before cleaning.

audio tape after cleaning
After one cleaning pass.

Conservation Tips: Sharing knowledge, Solving Problems

Conservation Department tips session.
Conservation Department tips session.

When I first started here we had a variety of skill sets on the staff. To help build our skills, share ideas and create a forum to ask questions, I started “Tuesday Tips at Two,” a weekly meeting with the staff. On Tuesdays we would gather and share tips and tricks on everything from turning corners on cloth clamshell boxes to controlling the curling of the endsheets when putting a new case on a text block.

Those weekly tip sessions have turned into monthly ones. Before our monthly staff meeting, if someone has a tip or wants opinions about how to solve a treatment problem, we gather as a group to  learn from each other or to offer feedback.

tips5
Corner repair demo.
tips1
Jig for corner fills.

Last month we had a double-tip session. Mary presented a tip on using Japanese tissue and paste to fill lost corners on 19th Century publisher’s bindings, and Erin presented a tip on using embossing plates (sold in craft stores) to mimic the pressed-fabric you often see on 19th Century publisher’s bindings. It was an educational and fun tips session.

Embossing plates (purple).
Embossing plates (purple).
Embossed repair tissue.
Embossed repair tissue.

What’s In The Lab: Maps for exhibition

Washing maps
Washing paper is deeply satisfying.

In the lab today are some beautiful maps that will be  loaned to Duke University’s Nasher Museum for an exhibit in the fall.

While most of the maps are in good condition, some need conservation beforehand. Rachel has been doing some dry cleaning, and Grace is washing a few to remove old repairs and stains. Once the conservation is done, we will help to mount them so they can be matted and framed at the Nasher.

Doris Duke Memorabilia: How Do I Box That?

Written by Jennifer Blomberg, Senior Conservation Technician

Sometimes you just never know what will come through the lab for boxing. These items from the Doris Duke Archives were recently sent to us for custom enclosures. Boxing a Louisville Slugger baseball bat, a football, and weathervane can present obvious challenges due to their unusual shapes and dimensions.  To read more about the provenance of these materials, please see the Rubenstein Library’s blog post.

Goals for Housing

The main goals for creating these housings were to protect the fragile materials while providing easy access for researchers. They had to fit the unusual shape and dimensions of the materials, keep them from shifting inside the box, and allow them to be shelved easily with other archival materials. Designing and fabricating these boxes offered a real challenge.

Creating the Enclosures

I made “telescoping” boxes for the baseball bat and weathervane. This type of box consists of a bottom tray that fits the object, and a separate lid that fits over the bottom tray. The football got a standard drop-spine or “clamshell” box. Each tray was lined with Volara foam to provide cushioning for the object.

Overall, I am content with the final enclosures and believe that they achieve the goals that we sought out to accomplish. These will provide supportive and protective enclosures, while also making them available and accessible to researchers.

Louisville Slugger baseball bat.
Football inscribed to Doris Duke.
Duke weathervane.

 

 

Quick Pic: This Week In Conservation (we’re on Instagram!)

This week Duke Libraries joined Instagram! We will be posting along with our colleagues from across departments to show you the inner (and outer) workings of the library.

Our pics will be linked to the Library’s Flickr page and to the DUL Twitter account as well.

If you are an Instagram user, search for Duke University Libraries and follow us. If for some reason you cannot find it, search for #conservation, #rubensteinlibrary, or #perkinslibrary.

1091 Project: Training, Not Just For Athletes

Welcome to the 1091 Project, a collaborative blogging endeavor between the conservation labs at Duke University Libraries and Iowa State Libraries. Today we are highlighting the kinds of training we do that supports the long-term preservation of our materials.

Care and Handling Training

Conservation Services provides training in both informal and formal ways. We are often contacted by Technical Services for advice on proper handling or housing procedures for fragile materials. Sometimes we get a call from the reading room requesting our help to show a patron how to turn fragile pages or unfold brittle documents.

Care and Handling Training (2009)

Conservation offers annual Care and Handling sessions for staff and student assistants. We usually offer multiple sessions in multiple locations to catch as many people as possible. For those unable to attend we put PDF’s of the handouts and Power Point slides on our intranet site (Duke NetID required).

In these sessions participants learn how to identify damaged materials and what the process is to send them to Conservation. We also demonstrate proper handling techniques such as shelving spine down, how to safely remove books from the shelf, and packing book trucks and mail bins for transport. Because of the current renovation projects we may not be able to offer on-site training this year. To that end, I’ve updated our handouts and Power Point presentations and will make sure student supervisors know where to find them.

New Directions

We are investigating the use of short videos as a fresh and fast way to get information to our patrons, staff and students. This is our first video in the series. What do you think? What sorts of videos would you want to see or show to your patrons?

Other Training
We do a lot of other training, too:

  • We participate in the disaster preparedness and recovery training sessions offered by the Preservation Department.
  • We work with the staff in the Digital Production Center and the Internet Archives to make sure they are comfortable handling fragile materials during digitization. Sometimes we will actually help during imaging for particularly fragile or delicate items.
  • We train our Conservation student assistants and volunteers on how to repair materials and make enclosures.We couldn’t be successful without them!
  • We train ourselves, too. Each month before our staff meeting we hold a Tips Session. If we discover a neat tool, or come up with a creative solution to a problem, we demonstrate it to the entire lab staff. These session are fun, fast and foster a lot of conversation and brain storming.

Let’s go see what training Parks Library Preservation does. Please share your training regimen or ideas for videos in the comments.

1091 Project: AIC Annual Meeting And The 1091 Project

This month on the 1091 project we look back to last week’s American Institute of Conservation’s Annual Conference. Melissa Tedone from Iowa State University (and co-conspirator of the 1091 Project) and I were part of a panel discussion called Communicating Conservation. The panel was put together by Nancie Ravenel from the Shelburne Museum and included myself, Melissa, Heidi Sobol from the Royal Ontario Museum, and Rosa Lowinger, conservator in private practice. A brief synopsis of the panel can be found on Conservators Converse thanks to Rose Cull.

Our presentation covered what social media we use, why we use it, our audiences, what assessment tools we use, and what good ideas we have developed including the 1091 Project. I want to share some of my observations from the discussion.

Mission Matters

Questions were raised: Is blogging “education” or “outreach”? Should we highlight our own work or should we teach best practices to the public? Are we talking to clients or to colleagues? I think we do all of the above to various degrees depending on our mission.

Duke University’s main mission is education. The Library’s mission is to support faculty and student research. Our Department’s mission is to make our resources available both now and in the future. We use social media to demonstrate to our library, university and the public how we support both the Library’s and the University’s missions. We also use these platforms to educate the public, and to have conversations with colleagues so that we, too, can learn and improve our programs.

This may not be the same mission as a conservator in private practice or someone who works in a museum and their use of social media may differ because of that. I do think there are many similarities in our missions and certainly the communication between colleagues is made easier through social media. Knowing your mission and your audience is key to successful blogging.

Audience: Intended and Real

Because the lab is in the lower level of our building behind a secured door our work sometimes feels secretive and hidden. When we first started this blog we wanted to show our library colleagues what we do and how we connect to their work and the library as a whole. The analysis of our stats showed that while we were being read by a few people within our library (mostly other bloggers), we were mainly being read by our conservation colleagues and the public.

This analysis lead to questions:

  • How can we increase our readership within our library (beyond other bloggers)?
  • How can we collaborate more with our colleagues across the country?
  • What information should we be providing for the public?
  • How do we serve all these readers in an effective and engaging way?

The first bullet point I’m still trying to improve. We are successfully blogging collaboratively with Devil’s Tale. Our “What’s In The Lab” series has been popular and allows both Devil’s Tale and Preservation Underground to reach new audiences.

The 1091 Project is a successful example of how we can collaborate with colleagues dispersed across a wide geographical area. I would love to hear ideas on how we can expand this collaborative blogging effort even further.

We provide information on best practices for preserving personal collections especially during Preservation Week. Our posts generally highlight what it is conservators do and I think simply presenting our projects is interesting to a wide variety of audiences.

Feedback

Still running through my mind is the issue of feedback. Melissa and I both receive a lot of great comments via email after each post. While we love to have these conversations privately, the point of social media is the online conversation between people. How can we encourage more feedback to our blogs? What kinds of posts would you like to see that would prompt more conversation?

There is much more to say and talk about and it was really fun to work with Melissa and the rest of the panel in person! Read Melissa’s post on Parks Library Preservation and for more conference coverage read updates on  Conservators Converse and Preservation and Conservation Administration News (full disclosure, I am co-editor and author of PCAN).

 

1091 Project: A Day In The Life Of The Conservation Lab

Welcome to our first 1091 Project post, a new effort in collaborative blogging!

1,091 is the number of miles between Ames, Iowa and Durham, North Carolina. Ames is the home of Iowa State University and our colleagues who write Parks Library Preservation. On the third Friday of each month, we will pick a topic and write about that topic from our own perspectives to highlight the similarities and differences between our programs. Our hope is that we will learn from each other and spark conversation between us and between our readers. If there are topics you are interested in hearing about from us, please leave them in the comments box.

The Verne and Tanya Roberts Conservation Lab is located on the lower level of Perkins Library. We work on both general (circulating) and special (non-circulating) collections. Our program has one full time technician to work primarily on general collections, plus 0.5FTE student assistants and two volunteers to help her. Three conservators and one technician work primarily on special collections materials. And there is me, the head of the Conservation Services Department. That makes six full time staff, two volunteers and our student assistants all working diligently to maintain our collections. Last fiscal year we repaired over 2,800 items from the collections and made over 8,500 custom enclosures.

1091 Project: A Day In The Life Of The Conservation Lab

A typical day begins at 8am with the collection of the damaged books from Circulation, with a stop in Shipping & Receiving to pick up books sent over from the branches or from Perkins technical services. These are brought to the lab and each item’s bar code is scanned to change it’s process status to “in preservation.” The books are sorted by the type of repair or enclosure they need and put onto our shelves. This allows staff to  pull several books needing the same repair. By working in batches our repair procedures are more streamlined and efficient, and the work turns around faster.

When the Rubenstein Library opens at 9am, we will collect any damaged items that were used in the special collections reading room. We will also pick up any special collections items sent over from Rubenstein Library’s technical services department for enclosures or pre-shelving repair needs. We will transfer these items to the lab and enter them into our Lab Log, which is a list of all the special collections materials that are in Conservation. The conservators will write a condition report for each item, then they will meet with the curators to discuss treatment options and agree on what will be done. Once they sign off on a treatment, digital photographs will be taken before treatment begins, and again after treatment. These will be filed with the written treatment documents when the items are returned to the library.

If today is Boxing Day, everyone in the lab will work on making custom enclosures for special collections. Boxing Day is great for your statistics since you create several boxes in one day, but it can be challenging to remain productive while the board shear is occupied or someone else has the corner rounder. It’s a good exercise to figure out how to remain productive while waiting for equipment, and it’s amazing how much prep work you can do while you wait.

As department head, my time is spent planning, managing the budget and staff, and gathering information, or as I call it, “keeping the wheels on the Conservation bus.” Every now and then I get to work at the bench, but it’s never as much time as I would like. My day is usually spent meeting with colleagues to find out how we can improve our services, and developing new initiatives and strategies to ensure our services are aligned with the Library’s strategic plan and direction. I may attend a lot of meetings, but I find this “strategery” to be rather fun and challenging. We are on the verge of some new and exciting initiatives that I can’t wait to roll out.

Other things our staff may be doing on any given day include helping our Exhibits Coordinator install an exhibit, working with the Digital Production Center to repair materials before imaging, and working with the Head of Preservation to record insect activity or environmental conditions in the library. And if it is April 1st, we will be holding our annual Edible Book Festival. Many of us also contribute to the profession by publishing research, presenting at conferences, and actively participate on state- and national-level committees. You can find more images from the lab on our Flickr page and you can also follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

That’s our typical day, let’s see what is happening over in Ames at Parks Library Preservation. [link is now working 1/20/12 1:52pm]

The end of a productive day