Tin Foil Men Grow Bigger


OK, so we here at Preservation Underground are obsessed with the Tin Foil Men. They showed up in the exhibits area, and later in the Chronicle which we also blogged about, and have been blogged about over at The Devil’s Tale.

Today the artist has been placing really large Tin Foil Men around West Campus. What joy these are bringing to the weary campus denizens as we march towards finals week! We like the treasure-hunt aspect of today’s installation. If you get a chance to go outside, don’t forget to look up, there may be something in the trees! Here’s some pictures, if you have any images of your own, we would love to see them!

Celebrating 10 Years of Preservation: 10 years, 10 People

This year marks the Preservation Department’s tenth year serving the Duke University Libraries. We are planning several events to mark the occasion which will include exhibits, an open house, and interviews with staff members.

We will start our staff interviews with our longest-serving team member Winston Atkins, Preservation Officer for the libraries. Winston came to Duke from NC State a decade ago and was tasked with starting the Preservation Department. You can also find this and other videos at our Duke University Libraries You Tube channel.

We would love to hear from you if you have favorite Preservation, Conservation or DPC story to share, or would just like to give us a shout out and let us know how we are doing. Contact me and I’ll compile them for a blog post later.

May Day S.O.S.

Heritage Preservation has for the past several years promoted May Day as the day to think about disaster preparedness in cultural institutions.

To honor May Day we offer resources for you to kick start your disaster plan and recovery efforts. Online disaster planning and recovery advice is everywhere but you need to be an informed consumer when looking at many of these sites. Here are a few that we find useful. Listing does not imply endorsement of any product or company.

Disaster Planning and Response

Council of State Archivists Pocket Response Plan

A free template for creating a folded plan with phone numbers and contact information. It folds down into a business card-sized document.

Northeast Document Conservation Center D-Plan
A free, online template that can be accessed 24/7 from anywhere. You can also print out the plan in case your power is out.

Heritage Preservation: Disaster Wheel and Field Guide to Emergency Response
The wheel is great to have on hand for first responders, especially if they may not be materials experts. The Field Guide is one of the best fill-in-the-blank plans you can have…easy to use, customizable and affordable.

Western Association for Art Conservation “Salvage Operations for Water Damaged Collections”
A classic how-to for several types of materials you may find in museums, libraries and archives. Originally issued in 1988 on water-proof paper, the update in 1997 includes more modern materials. You can always print it out on your own water-proof paper.

Other Resources

Lyrasis Disaster Resources

Includes information for families and personal papers.

Library of Congress Preservation Directorate Emergency Preparedness
Useful information, some of which is hard to find including recovery information should you be hit by a volcano eruption. Don’t say it can’t happen.

Conservation On Line Disaster Preparedness and Response
Loads of information geared towards the professional conservator and preservation administrator.

ProText React Pak and Rescube
Should disaster strike, you need supplies on hand. You can purchase a kit such as the React Pak, or create your own using this as a guide. Put your supplies together now before something happens, and be sure anyone can get to them in an emergency.

Confessions of a Conservation Librarian

Yesterday I said to myself, “Self, you haven’t backed up your computer files lately. Perhaps you should.” To whit I replied, “Meh, maybe after I download this software so I can stream videos.”

Of course my computer crashed this morning. I tried rebooting, rebooting again, and again. Nothing. All those files and images…perhaps they can be saved but my luck doesn’t normally run that way.

*Sigh* How many times during the semester do I tell my preservation students about the fragility of electronic media and documents? How many times in my professional life do I tell people that they really need to back up their files regularly because you don’t know when a problem will strike and you risk losing everything? I told you so…and I told myself so.

So, loyal readers, go to your computer right now and back up your files. Go. Now. I’ll wait for you to come back….there, don’t you feel better?

Tin Foil Men Artwork Exposed (Almost)


We blogged before about the tin foil art that crops up on campus. Recently the artist surprised us with a few men climbing the exhibit cases. The whole library was abuzz and the story was picked up by the Devil’s Tale. In today’s Chronicle, Shining Li wrote a column about the student who creates this artwork.

“As it turns out, they’re made by a soft-spoken and thoughtfully philosophical student at Duke, who prefers anonymity. After picking up the skill at a young age, “bin Fuad” (a code name he specified upon our introduction) can now make each foil man in less than five minutes—and he makes, he said, sometimes a hundred at once to scatter across campus. At other times, he shapes just one based on a passing fancy and leaves it wherever it strikes him as a fitting location.”

Whoever “bin Fuad” is, we want to say thanks for brightening our world just a little bit.

The Elves Have Left the Tugboat (or Thoughts on Binding Music)


Conservation does a lot of pamphlet binding for the Music Library. You would think that music scores would be fairly easy to work with, but then you would be wrong.

Scores come in a variety of sizes from miniature to over two feet tall. They often come with CD’s or multiple parts that need to go into a pocket. They can be folios printed on two sides that have been folded down the middle and stapled, or they may be printed as single-sided sheets that need to be put together in some way so the sheets don’t get separated. Scores can be adhesive bound, stapled through the fold, spiral bound or comb bound. Sometimes they are paginated, often they are not. Then there are the random arrangements wherein the musician decides on what order to play the piece.

There is nothing straight forward about getting music scores ready for the shelf. Reading music helps, and paying attention to the frontice material is a must.

Last year 30% of the pamphlets we bound came from our Music Library. Every now and then we get a title that we all fall in love with. If you have ever played Dead Elf Tugboat, we would love to hear from you!

The Internet Archive Arrives at Duke

It happened this week. The library has been contributing content to the Internet Archive through the Scribe Project at UNC as we mentioned in a previous post. On Tuesday we got our very own Scribe. We were giddy with excitement, until it wouldn’t fit in the door.

How many librarians does it take to get a 36″ piece of equipment through a 35″ door? Our head of Shipping and Receiving to the rescue! Thanks to Charles we got the door off its hinges and the Scribe into the Digital Production Center. Hoorah!

Stacy, Emily, Robert and Abigail from the Internet Archive went to work getting the system up and running. Soon it will be humming along, creating digital content at the estimated rate of up to 3,000 items per year. We will be focusing on materials from the Rare Book, Manuscript and Special Collection Library. With luck (and technical skill) the first books should be under the camera by the end of the day.

Update: Read more on the Scribe at the Devil’s Tale, the blog of the Rare Book, Manuscript and Special Collection Library.

Stop the Presses! EBF5 receives rave reviews

I always wanted to say that, even back when I worked for the local newspaper as a photojournalist. Now I just yell it randomly, like today when I bring you the links to the press we received for our EBF5 (2010 edition).


The Office of Communication Services produced a short video clip featuring interviews with library staff members who created edible books, including your humble blogger.

We were highlighted in Duke Today.

The Independent Weekly also highlighted us on Blink. Thanks Indy Week, we love you!

The Chronicle, our student newspaper, ran a photo of the event but didn’t put it on their website. Too bad! our edible books are so visual. If you would like to see it, we do have it pinned to our bulletin board. How very paper-y of us.

We were picked up in the blogosphere, too. BadgerBlog announced the event for us, thanks Badger! We were Tweeted by the Gothic Bookshop and many individuals in the library and outside of the library. Thanks for spreading the word, and I invite you to join us next year in person!

Phyllis Hoffman Celebrate Spring Magazine interviewed us for their spring 2010 edition. Again, you can’t link to any content, but trust me, it’s in there. Our portion is small, just a couple paragraphs, and they present their own ideas for real edible food based on book titles.

*Image: “In Defense of Food” by Amy Turner.

Edible Book Festival Coming Soon


We are less than two weeks away from the fifth annual Edible Book Festival. I hope everyone has their ideas ready and their chefs hats on. If you need inspiration, check out our past event photos or go to the International Edible Book Festival website.

EBF V will take place on April 1, 2010, from 2-3:30 p.m. in the Gothic Reading Room. Everyone is welcome to participate. There are two rules:

The book must be made out of food products.

All edible books must be “bookish” through the integration of text, literary inspiration or, quite simply, the form.

Bring your submissions to the Gothic Reading Room by 1:30 so we can get you checked in. Doors open at 2pm, there will be a silent auction to benefit the Library Memorial Fund, and voting for your favorite submissions in several categories.

See you there!

Image: Leaves of Grass by Judy Bailey

Happy St. Patrick’s Day!


Have you missed me? I’ve been out sick this past week and haven’t been able to post. Maybe I need more Beef Wine in my diet. While I catch up on what’s been happening around here, I thought I would give you a little luck charm for St. Patrick’s Day in case you aren’t wearing any green. We found this four leaf clover in Lloyd’s War Losses: WWII. Fun, and a bit ironic. You can see more of what we find in books on our Flickr page.

Duke University Libraries Preservation