Come visit the new Preservation exhibit, Mixed Blood: Conservation Work and Decision-Making in Support of the Study of Racial History. Curated by Mary Yordy, this exhibit highlights materials held by the Duke University Libraries pertaining to the study of mixed racial heritage. Crossing multiple disciplines and reflecting cultural influences that are international in scope, items from these collections are used heavily and frequently by students, faculty, and scholars. Within this exhibit, the materials show the necessity of conservation work and preservation care to ensure the long term use and availability for future scholars. Located in Perkins LL1, outside Room 023.
Apparently, a few years ago Aaron heard through the grapevine that there were people in Trent Hall doing interesting things to books. That, of course, was us when we were off site waiting for our beautiful new lab facilities to be constructed. Thanks to Duke Magazine and to Aaron for allowing us to share what we do with the Duke alumni community.
P.S. The now-famous banana book makes an appearance in the print version.
As a conservator I tend to break books down into their parts: paper, thread, adhesive, ink, binding style. Each of these components requires careful consideration before proceeding with a treatment. It happens every day, we look at a Blaeu atlas, or a Whitman manuscript and we get to work repairing them. Sure, these are marvelous items, but the bottom line is that we need to put them back together so our patrons can use them. Then you encounter something that reminds you just how special your job really is.
John James Audubon’s Birds of America came up on our condition survey list this week. These double-elephant folios are truly magnificent. Each volume is over 100 centimeters (39 inches) in height and very heavy, heavy enough that it takes two people to move them. I followed my survey form, recorded the binding information then the text block information, wrote down the damage I saw and determined what priority we should give them.
Then I did something I don’t normally do, I took a few minutes to admire these books for what they are. The masterful drawings, the tiny details that inform us of how these creatures live, the beautiful colors of these birds. I thought about the skill it took to draw these animals, to print the plates, and to bind these big volumes.
I feel lucky to have the opportunity to handle these books, to be a small part of their history, and to work for an institution that trusts me to do right by the collections. The funnest part was working with the RBMSCL staff to choose the new openings. If you are in the vicinity of the Mary Duke Biddle Room, stop by and see our feathered friends.
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.
Remember when you were a kid counting the days to Christmas and the closer Christmas got the longer the days seemed to be? When Christmas finally showed up I was just like most other kids on Christmas morning…up at 5 a.m. waiting for my parents to wake up so I could open the presents Santa had left. I didn’t realize at the time that Santa was exhausted and had just gone to bed a few hours before I woke up. I must learn to be patient my mother would say.
Well, that patience has paid off and Christmas arrived a little early this year in the Digital Production Center. In November, after a month of testing, the Library purchased a Phase One camera system. This camera is built for speed and achieves a similar quality to the camera it replaced. Then, in early December we purchased a Zeutschel 14000 A2 camera system which is also built for speed, replacing the slower flatbed scanners. The space age look of this camera system reminds me of a Transformer from my childhood days. And to top it all off we have recently purchased a SAMMA Solo video digitization unit. This unit allows us to digitized analog video, which is something we were not able to do in the past.
It’s like Christmas morning in the Digital Production Center putting everything together and trying to figure out how everything works. While we are experiencing some growing pains we are excited with the challenge of mastering the new equipment. We have been focusing on developing new workflows to accommodate a much faster production rate and adjusting to new software that automates some of the process.
With two new full time staff members we will be able to use the new equipment to it’s fullest potential. With all that is new in the Digital Production Center we will be much more efficient and able to focus on the Libraries Strategic Plan to provide more digital content.
Written by Mike Adamo, Digital Production Center
One of the benefits of working for Duke University Libraries is that it provides staff with flexible work options. This comes in handy if you are interested in what goes on in another department or, like me, working full time while attending library school.
My department supports collaborating with other groups and fostering partnerships. This past year I have been able to take advantage of cross-training opportunities by working one day a week in the Sallie Bingham Center for Women’s History and Culture . Some of the highlights of my work at the Center included answering reference questions, processing collections and instructing undergraduates about using the wealth of primary source material from the Rare Book, Manuscript and Special Collections Library and Bingham Center collections.
Cross-training in this women’s archive taught me new skills and allowed me to share knowledge from my Conservation background while interacting and building relationships with those in the library with whom I had not worked with previously. And it was really fun. My adventures in cross-training led me to work with students taking courses like Writing 20, attend events at the Women’s Center, and even do a zine workshop for girls attending Girls Rock Camp NC in Durham and Chapel Hill. Throughout my encounters, I was able to rely on my Conservation experience such as when handling delicate, fragile manuscripts and setting up special collection items for class instruction.
While at times it felt like exercise juggling full time work in Conservation, interning at the Bingham Center and attending graduate school, this fantastic experience broadened my understanding and knowledge of what goes on not just in the library, but across campus and in our community.
Taking a cue from the Goodson Blogson we present our first preservation holiday gift guide. If you don’t know what to give that conservator or preservation librarian in your life, never fear, Preservation Underground is here.
Join us as we watch “Don Etherington: A Sixty-year Odyssey in Bookbinding and Conservation.” Mr. Etherington has worked tirelessly as a conservator, educator, writer and leading voice in conservation theory and practice. He has been a teacher and mentor to many conservators working in the field today and has led an enormously interesting life from apprentice bookbinder to proprietor of Etherington Conservation Services (now part of the HF Group).
This video is part of the Syracuse University Library Brodsky Series for the Advancement of Library Conservation. Follow this link for more on the series and past speakers.
Perkins Library, Room 217
Bring your lunch.
All are welcome.
We have two new members of the Digital Production Center starting work today. Oscar Arias has been with Duke Libraries for a long time. Lately he has been working for the Center for Instructional Technology as an Instructional Technology Lab Coordinator. In that capacity he helped students and faculty with lab resources, conducted workshops, and provided project assistance to language instructors.
Alex Marsh is new to Duke University Libraries. He brings a lot of experience in high-end digital imaging, photographic archiving, web content production and A/V digitization.
Both Oscar and Alex are Digitization Specialists in the DPC. Their primary responsibility will be producing digital surrogates of books, manuscripts and a/v materials from our collections. With Mike Adamo and Rita Johnston, we now have four staff (and many students assistants) in the DPC working diligently to safely reformat our rare and unique collections.