Category Archives: Preservation Week

Preservation Video Rodeo Roundup, pt. 5 (The Rest of the Videos)

Welcome to the final day of our Preservation Week video rodeo roundup. Today is a grab bag of preservation and conservation related videos, and a couple plain ol’ library videos, that we like. If you have found others you like that are in this same genre, please leave a link in the comments.

Book artist and author Bea Nettles on learning about preservation and how it has changed her work.


LYRASIS (formerly SOLINET) shows you how to safely remove a paperclip. I know you want to send this to all of your processors, don’t you? They will also show you how to remove staples.


Library security from the T.C. Beirne Law Library at the University of Queensland, Australia.


Just for fun: In 2009 to take a break from studying, an estimated 3,000 students created a flashmob at the UNC Chapel Hill Davis Library. Hmmm, today is the last day of classes here, I wonder if our students will do something like this?


Preservation Video Rodeo Roundup, pt. 4 (Insects and Disasters)

Welcome to part four of our Preservation Week video roundup. Today we have for your enjoyment some fun videos on not-so-fun topics: insects and disasters.

First up, my favorite insect video from the University of Florida Smathers Library Preservation Department. This, my friends, is why you want to keep the lid on the trash cans.


From our former colleague comes this humorous video. Thanks to UNC-Greensboro Preservation Committee for a fun look at insects in the library.


The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champagne Preservation Department recently put together some books on shelves to see what happens when a sprinkler head goes off. It’s always fun to watch books get wet.


After a flash flood hit the Hamilton Library on the campus of the University of Hawaii, the Conservation Department had to clean and repair the damage.


Just for fun: Mr. Bean tries to thwart security at his local library.


Preservation Video Rodeo Roundup, pt. 3 (Digital Preservation)

Welcome to part three of our Preservation Week video roundup. Today, some videos on preserving digital content. If you have favorite videos on this topic, please let us know about them in the comments section.

Team Digital Preservation always brings humor to the complicated issues of digital preservation. Tune in for their wacky, yet insightful, adventures.


Abby Smith Rumsey recently gave a lecture at Yale University titled “But Storage is Cheap…Digital Preservation in the Age of Abundance.” Well worth the time to view, and thanks to Yale for posting their Preservation Lecture Series videos online.


The Library of Congress presents basic issues of preserving digital content in this short video. Great for the non-preservation professional audience.


The Library of Congress talks to teens about longevity of digital media. We all need to do more to reach out to youth to get them interested now. Have you had success with this dear reader?


Just for fun: What would the help desk have looked like back when books were the new technology?


Preservation Video Rodeo Roundup, pt. 2 (Care and Handling)

It’s day two of Preservation Week. In today’s video roundup we share some of our favorite care and handling videos. If you have a favorite care and handling video, give us the link in the comment section.

The classic video is “Murder in the Stacks.” Thanks to Columbia University, this timeless (OK, maybe “historic”) video is now online for all to enjoy.


This video is one of the best, and shortest, care and handling videos we have seen. Produced by Middlebury College Preservation and Processing Unit (Department?).

At George Mason University, taking care of books is FUN.


Daniel Ireton created this fabulous video…modern videos meet olde tyme production. Hey Daniel, what library is this?


Just for fun: A reminder that food in the library is generally frowned upon.


It’s Preservation Week! Preservation Video Rodeo Roundup, pt. 1 (Conservation)

Happy 2nd Annual Preservation Week to you all.  There are many exciting events happening across the country for PW this year. To find an event near you, simply find one on the ALA PW map.

In our library, the Preservation Office is hosting a lecture by Ryan Shaw on Wednesday, details can be found at our previous blog post.

Here at Preservation Underground we are hosting a Preservation Video Rodeo Roundup. Each day will have a theme, and we will link to videos related to that theme that we have found on the web. There are tons of videos out there, we will link to our favorites. Please participate! If you have  favorite preservation, conservation or digitization themed videos we should know about, tell us about it in the comment section.

Today’s Theme: Conservation

The J. Willard Marriott Library at the University of Utah put together a fine video showing their beautiful conservation lab. This video highlights some of the work they are doing in both the book lab and the paper lab. Hosted by Randy Silverman, Preservation Librarian.


Brigham Young University has a hilarious take on the old TV show called ER. In this video, titled “BR” you get to see the work of the “book doctors” in the conservation lab.


The Georgia Archives offers this fantastic video on a recent project to conserve a map dating from 1808.


Our very own Erin Hammeke was interviewed last year by Duke at Work. We have our own videos listed in the “video” category if you want to see more.


Just for fun: Jeff Peachey, maker of wonderful paring knives, shows us just how easy paring leather should be.


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:

We Are Winners!

Heritage Preservation, the sponsors of May Day 2010, has pulled our name from a hat and awarded us a prize for our May Day blog post. Four winners from all of the participants were randomly drawn by members of the DC 16 firehouse, Heritage Preservation’s local firemen. Very fitting, no?

A list of all the participants finds us in good company. The other winners were Lycoming College’s Snowden Library, the Toy and Minature Museum of Kansas City, and the Balboa Art and Conservation Center.

Our prize is six Rescubes, perfect for those days when you come into work after a long summer holiday weekend only to discover that a water fountain pipe burst sometime at the beginning of that three day weekend, and there are three floors of wet carpeting and a small mold issue to deal with. Not that we would know from personal experience. [It’s all cleaned up now and dehumidifiers and carpet fans are on scene.] Happy Tuesday!

Preservation Week: 10 Tips For Your Collections (pt. 4)

Tip 8: Access and Preservation Go Together

A great amount of ink has been spilled when it comes to the “dilemma” of “preservation vs. access.” I, however, think access and preservation depend on each other for success. If items are not used, how do you know what condition they are in? Without access, digital files can become corrupt or disappear without notice. Friends, it’s two sides of the coin. Some tips to improve access and thus promote preservation:

Provide who/what/when/where for photos and documents.
You can write on the back of photos or documents lightly with a pencil, or take a digital image and add the information to the digital file. Be sure to put these in a safe location, or transfer the files regularly.

Inspect items regularly
Take things out occasionally and inspect them for mold and insect activity. Be sure they are clean and have no damage.

Organize and identify items
Label enclosures adequately so you know what is inside. This will also reduce rumaging through boxes to find what you need.

Give displayed items a rest
Rotate displays to give items a break from being out, and to show off other items. This gives you a chance to inspect items regularly, too.

Document your documents
Document items for insurance purposes should disaster strike (describe valuables and take pictures of them, perhaps part of a home inventory).

Tip 9: Be An Informed Consumer

There is a lot of misinformation out there when it comes to preservation information and conservation instructions. You need to be an informed consumer when you are searching the web or watching television. There are some excellent online resources out there that offer solid advice including these:

Library of Congress Preservation Directorate
Northeast Document Conservation Center
Conservation Online
National Archives and Records Administration
American Institute for Conservation
ALA Preservation and Reformatting Section
National Archives of Australia
British Library’s Collection Care Department

Tip 10: Leave the Repairs to the Professionals

Sure, you can tape book pages together or attempt DIY book repair, but if your collection is valuable to you sentimentally or monetarily, it is best to consult a professional conservator. A good conservator will give you a range of options from an enclosure to full treatment and should be able to discuss with you, in plain English, what your choices are and how they will affect your material. Do not be afraid to ask questions. We conservators love to talk business. We also love to talk food…but that is a completely different blog post.

Thanks For Reading

We hope you have enjoyed our Preservation Week blogging. If you have learned something new or taken any advice, we would love to hear from you on what you did to protect your personal collections.

Preservation Week: 10 Tips For Your Collections (pt. 3)

Tip 6: Be Prepared For Disasters

We wrote about disaster preparedness for our May Day post. You should have a plan for yourself and your family in case of an emergency. And you should have one for your collectibles in case they are also affected. We won’t list all the resources from our May Day post, but here are some that address personal collections.

Library of Congress “Preserving Treasures After the Disaster”
Council of State Archivists “Rescuing Family Records: A Disaster Planning Guide”

Tip 7: Preserving Non-paper Collections

So far our posts have dealt mostly with paper-based materials. We of course collect a lot of other things, too. All collections benefit from a controlled environment and good handling practices. While we do not have room here to address all non-print media, here are some tips for the common items in home collections. A good place to start looking for information on non-print materials is the AIC Specialty Groups.

Many of the dyes in textiles are sensitive to alkaline (basic) conditions. If you are choosing enclosures for your wedding or christening gowns, baby clothes and other textiles, choose enclosures and wrapping materials that are pH neutral. These can easily be obtained by perveyors of quality conservation supplies such as Gaylord Brothers, University Products, or Talas. Listing does not imply endorsement of any product or vendor.

Textiles are also very sensitive to environmental conditions. Food stains can attract hungry insects and high humidity can accelerate decay and attract mold. If you display textiles, but especially sure they are not exposed to light and pollutants (cooking vapors, dust, etc.). Cleaning should be undertaken very carefully and follow established conservation guidelines (read: consult a professional). See the AIC Textiles Specialty Group page for some good information.

Photographs and Home Movies
Photos and film are very sensitive to the environment around them. Dust, light, pollutants, and handling can cause irreparable damage. As with textiles, some photographic processes can be alkaline sensitive. While you will find debate on this, if you have a choice we recommend pH neutral enclosures. If all you can find are alkaline enclosures, they are better than no enclosures at all. Good quality film cans come in acceptable plastics which do not rust. We also recommend creating high quality facsimiles if you have important photographs you want to display, and you can digitize your home movies so you don’t have to play the originals. Obviously do not throw away the originals once you reformat them.

Digital objects
We are creating digital materials at a fast clip these days. Photographs, documents, electronic scrapbook pages. These are all very fun and convenient for sharing and displaying, they are also very vulnerable. Digital documents are vulnerable to format and hardware obsolescence (video tape and CD’s are soon to be obsolete), chemical instability, and unpredictable and often complete failure. For this reason we often recommend creating backups often and in the most current formats. For instance, if you have a lot of home movies on VHS videotape, it is time to transfer them to DVD or MPEG format.

Lots of Copies Keeps Stuff Safe. That is our mantra. Make digital copies, send them to family members, even print out documents now and then and put them in a safe place. Be sure to transfer your electronic documents each time you update platforms or software versions.


American Institute for Conservation “Caring For Your Treasures”

Preservation Week: 10 Tips For Your Collections (pt. 2)

Tip 3: Handle With Care

The way you handle your collections can greatly affect their condition and longevity. Here are some tips for proper handling:

Do not eat or drink around collections.

Food and drink, even water, can cause permanent staining and can attract insects, mice and other undesirable critters which in turn may feast on your family bible.

Wash your hands.
Clean your hands and dry them thoroughly prior to using your collections or you may leave stains and food debris behind. This is especially true for photographs and textiles which are very sensitive to the oils and dirt on our hands.

Make sure you have a place to put it.
Before removing a book from the shelf or your mother’s wedding dress from the linen closet, make sure you have a clean, spacious area to lay it down. You can’t clear clutter when your hands are full.

Handle carefully.
Don’t pull books from the shelf by their head caps, don’t drag your mother’s wedding dress along the floor, don’t put fingerprints all over your photographs and don’t use your Grandmother’s fine bone china as frisbees. Avoid paperclips and sticky notes, too. For Pete’s sake, use some common sense and handle your stuff with care and respect.

Tip 4: Display responsibly

We all want to show off our family photographs and children’s art work. There are ways to do it properly, and ways to do it wrong. Here are some good tips for displaying your collections:

Keep away from light.
Light exposure causes fading and embrittlement of paper, photographs and textiles. If you hang things on your walls, keep them away from windows and lights. Before hanging, watch the sunlight patterns on the walls as the day progresses and note where direct sunlight falls. Then hang your pictures in places that don’t receive light.

Environment matters.
See our previous post on controlling the environment. Don’t hang the only photograph of Grandma in the bathroom or keep it in the attic. She will come back to haunt you if you do (at least that is what my Mom says, and she is always right).

Choose a good framer.
Any materials that come in contact with your collections should be made of the best quality materials and should not cause damage. When taking your photos and family papers to be framed, be sure to ask what the pH of the mat board is, what kind of glazing is used (glass or Plexiglas are good choices), and how the item will be attached to the backing (non-adhesive methods are best).

Tip 5: Consider Using Facsimiles

If you have only one of something to use or display, it might be a good idea to have a high quality reproduction made so you can work with that instead of the original. This way you can put the original inside a good enclosure and in a safe location. This is a great idea for things like birth records, family trees from the front of your bible, photographs, children’s drawings and especially for newspaper articles since they are so quick to turn yellow and brittle.


NEDCC “Matting and Framing for Art and Artifacts on Paper”
Library of Congress “Guide to Preservation Matting and Framing”
National Archives “Should I Digitize My Photo Collection?”