Category Archives: Collaboration

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?

httpv://youtu.be/8tyi86NE9sg

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

It Takes A Village To House A Village

The Doris Duke Archives recently sent us this “Tiny Thai Village” for boxing. Read about its history on The Devil’s Tale.

The TTV came in a small box with all of the models inside. Obviously a box half the size of a Twinkie would disappear in the stacks and make access difficult. While these models aren’t fragile per se, they are delicate and the little houses had no real protection.

Our goals for the final housing were three-fold

  • The new enclosure had to be big enough to go to the stacks
  • Each little house needed its own compartment for safety and security
  • You needed to be able to lift out each model with your giant fingers

Experimental Box-making
I thought this would be easy, but it took a lot of trial and error to figure it out. I grabbed a standard Metal-Edge box meant to house cabinet cards and started experimenting. Here’s what I did:

  • Created a tray with a compartment for each house
  • Built up the inside so that the models would be level with the top of the box
  • Inset the original box so it was at the same level as the models
  • Lined the lid with Volara to provide a cushion should they get shaken
  • Labeled the box with big “Fragile-Do Not Tilt” labels

The Final Box
While each model can still move around in its compartment, they don’t knock into each other and you can still get your fingers in to take them out. You can also quickly tell if one is missing since each compartment should be occupied.

Although I would likely do something a bit different if I were asked to house this again, I think this enclosure achieves the goals and will provide more protection than the original box.

Happy Second Birthday Devil’s Tale!

From the Gamble CollectionHappy Belated 2nd Birthday to our sister blog The Devil’s Tale. On October 8, 2009, TDT began their quest for blogging superstar-dom.

Reading The Devil’s Tale is a great way to connect to our special and archival collections as well as to our staff members. TDT’s posts (yeah Amy!) are insightful, educational and often humorous. Yes, librarians do have a sense of humor!

Without The Devil’s Tale, how would you know what new collections have come in? Or what  curious things the staff has found?

We know you want to know more about such things as gangrene and hair, don’t you? Yes you do! Surf on over to The Devil’s Tale and see what’s happening in the wild world of the Rubenstein Library.

 

Image “Two Betties” from the Sydney D. Gamble Photograph Collection, Rubenestein Library.

Repairing de Bry, One Piece At A Time

Written by Erin Hammeke, Conservator for Special Collections.

I recently completed the treatment of three separate volumes from Theodor de Bry’s account of the Americas, and I thought I would share an anecdote from the treatment of one of the volumes, Das vierdte Buch von der Neuwen Welt (Frankfurt, 1594).

This item has an engraved map of the Florida coast and Gulf of Mexico bound in at the front of the text. The curators informed me that this map was missing about a half of the complete printed map, the whole right side. They felt that it would be useful to indicate to researchers just how much of the map was missing by doing a repair and fill to the original dimensions of the plate.

An interesting thing happened. There was a small fragment, apparently tucked in with the map that I assumed belonged along the torn edge, but upon closer inspection, did not appear to line up with any part of the map along that edge.

Lucky for us, UNC Wilson Library has a version of this volume with a complete map. We contacted our conservation colleagues at UNC and arranged to see the map at their conservation lab. I took an image of the fragment with me to see if we could place it while we were there, but we couldn’t, so, we took a digital photograph of their map in its entirety and headed back to our lab.

I blew up the digital image and printed it out to the actual dimensions of the original, and I superimposed this printout onto our partial map on a light table. I was surprised to find that the small fragment actually belonged near to the center of the missing portion of the plate.

After some head-scratching, the curators and I decided that it was best to adhere the fragment in its rightful place. Again, using the light-table and printout as a guide, I adhered it precisely where it belonged.

I was pleased to be able to share this project with scholars who use these works at a recent symposium dedicated to the latest issue of the Journal of Medieval and Early Modern Studies. And I am happy to say that all three of the treated volumes were recently digitized by the Digital Production Center and are now available through the library’s catalog.

Here is a picture of the map after washing, lining, repairing, and adhering the loose fragment with paste.

Learning On The Job

Recently Alex from the Digital Production Center came by to ask if I could fix a cassette tape. The tape broke while they were digitizing it, and they just needed it to hold together long enough to record Side B. I know a lot about the chemical and physical make-up of magnetic tapes, but I have never had to actually fix one before.

Librarian skills activate! I searched the professional literature and the internet to no avail. There are a lot of DIY articles on the web, but we try to hold ourselves to a higher standard in our lab whenever possible. I finally called a friend who actually does this for a living.

Hannah Frost, Manager of the Stanford University Media Preservation Lab, walked me through how to repair the tape and assured me that I had the skills necessary to do it correctly. In the end the repair took less than ten minutes, and now I know how to do this the next time it happens.

The thing about working in a library is that we collect everything from the usual stuff like paper and skins but we also have poison arrows, glass plate negatives, hair, textiles, paintings, glass eyeballs and magnetic media. I can’t tell you how important it is for a library conservator to create a large network of friends and colleagues who specialize in areas that are not your own. Sooner or later you will find yourself working on something completely different and unknown, and you need to know who to call. Thanks Hannah, I owe you a drink at the next AIC conference.

Building the Broadside Digital Collection

We are currently digitizing our broadside collection. Before they go to the Digital Production Center, Conservation must prepare them by removing the old encapsulations and making sure they can be handled. There is additional information on this project over at the Digital Collections Blog.

Building the Broadsides Collection, Pt. 1

Building the Broadsides Collection, A large-scale digitization approach

Wow! This Job Sure Keeps Us Hopping

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=heo_NcFnnfY

Building a Digital Collection One Step at a Time

The Fall 2010 issue of Duke University Libraries Magazine includes an article on the steps it takes to create a digital collection.

Michael Adamo, Noah Huffman and Richard Murray

A visitor exploring one of the Duke Libraries’ digital collections is probably too engrossed in the content to think very much about how the collection got there. In fact, each digital collection is the product of a collaboration of eight to ten staff from several library departments who work together in a cross-functional team. The team begins each new project with a workplan and proceeds through a series of steps that culminates in the collection’s public launch.

Continue reading the article at Duke Magazine.