Tag Archives: 1091 project

1091 Project: Looking Ahead To 2014

1091 graphicHappy New Year from the 1091 Project. This month we are looking at the year ahead and discussing what is looming on our horizons. Maybe we will make a resolution or two for good measure.

As many of you know the library is undergoing a renovation that is slated to be finished in 2015. Conservation is literally on the other side of the construction site’s wall. So far we have endured one major leak due to a severed water pipe and one minor leak due to a clogged drain. Right now we are listening to the dulcet tones of the hoe ram as it breaks up bedrock. My wish for this new year is that we get through the next 18 months with no more major incidents.

As part of the 2015 grand opening celebration we will be helping to install a major exhibit for the Rubenstein Library. Decisions are already being made about the materials that will go into the exhibit. We will be pulling these items soon to start the evaluation and treatment process. The exhibit spaces in the library will also be expanding as part of the renovation. As a result, we will see an increased demand in exhibit preparation services and we will need to make sure resources are in place to accommodate this workflow.

pincers
Pincers from the HOM instruments collection.

We have a couple of large boxing projects on the horizon. Similar to the re-boxing of the papyri, these will be long-term projects that we will do over the course of multiple Boxing Days. One such project is the continued boxing of items from the History of Medicine’s instruments and artifact collection. These are always fun to work with, if not a bit frightening.

We have a couple of in-house training sessions planned that focus on deacidification and washing techniques that staff have learned either through attending workshops or through their research. These techniques give us the opportunity to work on materials that we may not have treated in the past due to the lack of a sound treatment protocol.

The other rapidly expanding workflow on our horizon is digital project preparation. Erin is in charge of coordinating this workflow with the Digital Production Center and the library’s new Digital Projects Coordinator. We need to determine our capacity for evaluating and treating materials slated for digitization, and strategize ways to respond to an increase in this workflow as that program expands.

We have one very exciting top-secret project we are working on that I am not at liberty to make public quite yet. Stay tuned for an announcement later in the spring. Let’s see what 2014 holds for Parks Library Preservation.

1901 Project: A Lab With A View (Or Not)

This month on the 1091 Project we take a look at our physical lab spaces, how they are set up and how our location impacts our work. The Verne and Tanya Roberts Conservation Lab is located on Lower Level 1 of Perkins Library, Room 023. We share this level with The Link, Digital Production Center (DPC), Preservation, and Shipping and Receiving.

When you enter the lab you will see that the work benches are aligned along the left wall; the large equipment such as the board shears, job backer, cloth roll storage and standing press are in the center of the room; the washing sink, clean-up sink, flat file storage, rolling work table, ultrasonic polyester welder, and sorting shelves are to the right. We have several rooms within the space including a “dirty room” with fume hood, sink, Kwikprint and work table; the department head’s office; a store room for supplies; and a photo documentation room. This space opened in 2008 and was purpose-built as a conservation lab as part of the Perkins Project. You can see a virtual tour on Flickr, and there is a video near the end of this post.

Challenges

One of the challenges in designing the layout of the lab was the fact that we have several large columns in weird places around the room that cause bottlenecks in the flow of traffic through the space. Since these columns are holding up the building, we had to work around them to arrange the space to accommodate large equipment and the need to move materials through the room.

Another challenge is navigating full book trucks through so many self-closing doors. If I could wave a magic wand and go back in time, I would invent the automobile ask for doors that open automatically in response to motion or the wave of your foot. The doors would also be wide enough to easily accommodate a truck of large, flat objects or supplies.

What Works

Having the benches in a row encourages interaction between the staff. Being close to each other allows for easy collaboration and discovery, it’s easy to ask for opinions or to see what projects everyone is working on. It also allows for a more flexible space as you can use an empty bench behind you as a temporary landing space if you need to.

lab staff working

The separate spaces for the dirty room and photo documentation room allows that work to happen away from the main lab. For example, when someone is vacuuming mold in the fume hood, or taking pictures of their objects in the photo documentation room, the noise and visual disturbance is reduced and makes for a happier workplace.

One of the benefits of the renovation was getting upgrades in ergonomic equipment and features. We have a cork floor that is easier to stand on all day, sit-to-stand benches that raise and lower at the push of a button, and special chairs (designed for dental hygienists) that are comfortable and supportive when you have to sit for long periods. We also have daylight balanced lights, which not only helps in color matching but are brighter and more cheerful to be under (in my opinion) when you have no windows in your space.

On Being In The Basement

Being in the basement has its disadvantages and advantages. We have to push carts through several doors, around many corners, and into an elevator to retrieve materials from the stacks. Driving book trucks safely around obstacles like these can be tricky.

People also find it difficult to find the lab on this floor. Unfortunately there are two rooms on this level with the same room number (one in Perkins Library and one in the adjoining Bostock Library). Bostock 023 is a computer training room, so we often have students ringing our doorbell expecting the lab to be their classroom. I tell students applying for jobs, “If you can find the lab, you have cleared one hurdle to being hired.”

The biggest advantage to being in our space is…our space. In our previous location our supplies were on pallets on the floor in a public hallway that went through the middle of our two work rooms. The photo documentation setup was in my office, which was difficult for everyone. We had no room for a fume hood or washing sink. We now have a physical space that allows us to provide a higher level of service and to work more efficiently. I quickly shot a video of our lab early this morning before everyone arrived. Sorry about the wobbly picture but you get the idea of what the space looks like.

The best thing about our space is that it is a gem in the crown of our renovated library. Our lab, the staff and the work they do have become one of the highlights of library tours. It is really fun to invite people “behind the scenes” to show off the great people I work with and the amazing things they do for the collections. Thanks for visiting us. Be sure to head over to Parks Library Preservation to read about their space!

1091 Project: Interview With A Conservator

This month as part of the 1091 project we are presenting an interview with our paper conservator, Grace White. Regular readers will remember that Grace joined the staff last year. Since then, she has worked on a variety of things including some very, very large WWI posters; she curated an exhibit on the tools of the trade; and has helped with a lot of the renovation prep, including the papyri rehousing project. Grace also writes the quarterly “What’s In The Lab” series for the Devil’s Tale.

In this interview, Grace discusses what she does, how she came to the conservation profession, her favorite treatment as well as her favorite tool. Check out our other staff interviews from our “10 Years, 10 People” series, and be sure to click over to Parks Library Preservation for their interview!

1091 Project: Digitization and Conservation

Welcome to this month’s 1091 Project wherein Parks Library Preservation and Preservation Underground talk about how we collaborate with our respective digitization programs.

Where Digitization Happens

At Duke Libraries digitization happens in three departments:

  1. Winston Atkins, head of the Preservation Department, advises on and coordinates preservation reformatting projects for both born digital collections and analog materials (especially non-print materials such as moving image).
  2. The staff in the Digital Production Center (DPC) is part of the Digital Scholarship and Production Services Department headed by Liz Milewicz. DPC digitizes print, manuscript and A/V materials for both library-driven projects and individual patron requests. They use a variety of imaging hardware in their workflow, choosing the appropriate one based on the size, condition and type of material they are imaging.
  3. Internet Archive has one operator and overhead-scanning equipment on site to digitize print materials from special collections.

Conservation Services works to some extent with all three of these workflows to be sure our materials are safe and in good condition for imaging.

Louisa Whitman letter, before treatment
Louisa Whitman letter before digitization and conservation treatment.

Project Evaluation Prior To Imaging

We review projects under consideration for digitization to be sure the materials are stable enough for reformatting. We meet with DPC and library staff to look at the collection (or a representational portion of it if it is very large) to determine what kind of materials they are, what their condition is, and what treatment may be needed prior to digitization.

Treatment Before And After Imaging

Our main concern is that damaged materials are stabilized prior to reformatting so they can be handled without further deterioration. The most common problems that we treat before imaging include:

  • page tears or losses
  • mis-folds or detached pieces of fold-outs
  • loose or detached pages
  • old repairs (if they obscure text)
  • uncut pages
  • old Mylar encapsulations sealed with tape

We don’t normally fix binding problems such as loose or missing spines or boards until after imaging if the book can be handled carefully as is. But if we feel a book should be repaired first, we will consult with the librarians and decide on a treatment plan prior to sending it to DPC.

After imaging we will do any repairs or put those items into our repair request database to do at a later date. We will also provide a custom enclosure for anything that is fragile or needs protection, just as we would for any other treatment in the lab.

Removing old, taped encapsulations.

An example of a pre-imaging workflow is the ongoing broadside project. Decades ago it was standard practice to tape the edges of the broadsides to protect them from tearing (we obviously don’t do that anymore). Over the years, the adhesive has made the paper very brittle, yet it is still sticky. DPC cannot image through Mylar so the old, double-stick tape encapsulations must be removed. Because of time and resource limitations we do not remove the old tape, but we do repair any heavily damaged broadsides with paste and Japanese tissue so that they are in one piece and readable. When DPC is finished with them, we re-encapsulate the taped broadsides with our ultrasonic welder so that they do not stick to other broadsides in the folder (no more tape!).

Collaboration During Imaging

The Internet Archive is scanning an incredible number of items every day. The most often requested repairs for this workflow is cutting pages that were never cut by the publisher, or reattaching a loose page. We try to turn these around quickly to keep this workflow moving, especially if it is a patron request.

Sometimes a page or fold-out will get torn or come loose during scanning or a book is discovered to have uncut pages. DPC will bring it next door and we will quickly turn these repairs around so we don’t hold up their workflow.

Imaging Ethiopic scrolls.

Sometimes the materials themselves pose a handling challenge and we will help physically handle the books or manuscripts during imaging. Digitizing the Ethiopic scrolls is a good example of this sort of collaboration. Because these vellum scrolls were so long they could not be imaged in one shot, and they were so tightly wound that they  would roll up on their own if not weighted down.We had to devise a method to hold sections of the scrolls open while also allowing us to unroll and re-roll as we digitized.

Training

As you can imagine there is a huge volume of materials being imaged every day here in the basement of the library. Because there is so much going through DPC and Internet Archive, we simply cannot review every binding or manuscript page prior to imaging. We work very closely with the staff to be sure that they know what sort of damage to look for, how to handle fragile materials, and when to ask for assistance. We want them to feel that they have the information they need to safely handle materials, and in turn we trust their judgment to know when they should come next door to see us. I think we have a really good working relationship in this way.

Please visit Parks Library Preservation to see how they collaborate with digital projects.

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