Tag Archives: Conservation

Quick Pic: Work Comes In, Work Goes Out

When I first arrived at the library the repair unit was considered the place where “things went to and never came back.” That, of course, wasn’t true then and it certainly isn’t true now. Here are a few lovely repaired items going back to the general collections thanks to Mary and Tedd.

New cases and rebacks. Headed back to the shelf thanks to Conservation.
New cases and rebacks on their way back to the shelf thanks to Conservation.

Hosting a Contract Conservator On Site

Recently we contracted with object conservator Susanne Grieve Rawson to work on some objects from the History of Medicine Collection. These are being prepared for exhibit in the renovated Rubenstein Library.

Rather than sending her the objects as you normally do when you contract conservation services, Susanne came to the Verne and Tanya Roberts Conservation Lab to do the work.

Susanne started the first day evaluating the condition of the objects with Rachel Ingold, History of Medicine Collection curator,  and Meg Brown, Exhibits Coordinator. Her examination included looking at a few of the objects under UV light.

Photo Dec 01, 3 12 53 PM
(L to R) Meg Brown, Rachel Ingold, Susanne Grieve Rawson

Photo Dec 01, 3 09 31 PM
Susanne examines item under UV light.

She also met with Rachel and Andrew Armacost, Head of Collection Development in the Rubenstein Library, to discuss the condition of the items and potential treatment options.

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(L to R) Andrew Armacost, Rachel Ingold, and Sussane Grieve Rawson.

Photo Feb 20, 4 02 49 PM
Susanne working on a Civil War era bone saw.

Susanne brought an amazing kit of tools with her. We geeked out a little, asking her questions about the special tools and supplies she had. It was a fun and educational to have an outside contractor working in the lab. We learned a lot from each other. I hope we have this opportunity  again.

Happy 11th Equipment Day!

The Schimanek board shear (big box on left) and book presses (on right) arrive at the loading dock in 2003.
The Schimanek board shear (big crate on left) and book presses (on right) arrive at the loading dock in 2003.

Equipment Day is our lab’s official birthday. While the conservation lab as we know it began in July 2002, our large equipment didn’t land on the loading dock until spring 2003. It was then that the lab felt “real.”

We’ve come a long way since 2002. We’ve expanded our staff, purchased additional large equipment, and even spent some time in the old nurses’ dormitory during renovation.

Old lab in 2002.
Old conservation lab in 2002.
Verne and Tanya Roberts Conservation Lab 2014
Verne and Tanya Roberts Conservation Lab in 2014 (photo Mark Zupan).

Thanks to the Digital Production Center for scanning our historic photos. Check out what the lab looks like now on Flickr and on YouTube.

 

 

 

 

 

 

What’s In The Lab: Long Civil Rights Digitization Project

Written by Erin Hammeke, Senior Conservator

The Content, Context and Capacity Project (CCC) was a multi-year collaborative digitization project of archival collections that documented the civil rights movement in North Carolina and the triangle. Josh Hager of Duke University Libraries’ Digital Production Center scanned several collections and approximately 66,000 individual items to contribute to this important project.

Some materials required minor repair before digitization, but since they are relatively modern, most of the materials were in stable condition and could be safely handled for scanning. There were some instances when items weren’t fragile, but because of format issues they needed attention before they could be imaged. These items included documents with attachments or bindings with restricted openings.

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Before treatment: Heavy staples in side of publication.

The Basil Lee Whitener Papers, 1889-1968 contains several government issued documents that were side stapled to form quick bindings. These bindings didn’t open freely and some had text positioned so far into the gutter that they could not be scanned as they were. In some cases the staples were rusting and damaging the paper as well. With input from curatorial staff, we decided to alter the bindings in order to better capture the content and to ensure their long term preservation.

This process involved Conservation staff removing the heavy duty metal staples — sometimes with a microspatula, and sometimes with every tool we could get our hands on — from wire clippers to vise grips. We then replaced the metal staple with a loop of linen thread that was tied very loosely to allow for unrestricted opening during scanning. After scanning, we cinched and tightened the loop of thread to form a linen “staple.”

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Before treatment: Staples restricted the opening and information was hard to read.
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After treatment: Metal staples replaced with thread.

There’s An App For That

I am always on the hunt for useful tools. The other day I had a large number of books and I needed to record the bar codes and transfer them into an excel file. I don’t have a laptop at work, but I do have an iPad. I searched the app store and found “Bar-Code.” It looked like it would do what I needed so I downloaded it. Within a couple of minutes my project was underway.

First, I scanned each bar code with the iPad camera:

photo 1

Each bar code is scanned as an image and is transcribed on the right-hand column.

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When you are done, you have the choice of what to do with the data. I chose to email the list to myself so I could put it easily into an Excel file.

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Using this app beat writing down all the bar code numbers and retyping them into a spreadsheet when I got back to my office. It saved a lot of time. The free version, which I used, does not save the data once you email it. I believe the paid version of this particular app will allow you to save your data.

I think this app, or a similar one, could be very useful during a disaster situation when you needed to track items going offsite for freezing. You could scan each item going into a crate, then send each crate’s inventory to yourself as an email. I think I would make each crate a separate email in case the network or app crashed unexpectedly. I would hate to record hundreds of bar codes then have the network crash or an email not go through for some reason.

What apps have you found useful in your preservation or conservation duties and how have you used them? Please share ideas in the comments section.

Happy 10th Birthday Conservation Services Department!

Special Delivery!
The new book presses and board shear arrived from Germany in April 2003. The first large equipment for the young Conservation Unit, then part of the Preservation Department.

Happy Birthday Conservation! Today is our 10th Equipment Day, the day we celebrate the arrival from Germany of our large board shear and book presses. Conservation was consolidated into a unit in July 2002 as part of the Preservation Department. It took until April 2003 to get the large equipment here from Europe, in the mean time we did what we could with the equipment we had, including an old board shear that we found in a supply closet. Back then the lab was in two rooms with a public hallway going down the middle. Today we are in a beautiful lab space custom built for us during the last renovation phase.

When I started at Duke the lab had three technicians and myself. We now have 2.75FTE technicians and 3.25 FTE conservators, 0.5FTE students, and two volunteers. We’ve expanded our services from mostly general-collection conservation to a full suite of services for both general and special collections.

 

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The Verne and Tanya Roberts Conservation Lab opened in 2008.

Since 2002 we have repaired over 66,000 books and manuscripts and created over 65,000 enclosures. I’m so very proud of the lab staff and how hard they work to keep our collections in good shape for our patrons. We of course have a lot of help from all over the library. Our colleagues are quick to send us anything in need of repair and we very much appreciate their help.

Looking back it is amazing where we have been and what we have accomplished. Looking forward I’m very excited about where we are going and can’t wait to share our story with you here on Preservation Underground. Happy birthday to us, and thank you all for reading.

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

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.

(Displayed February 2010 – April 2010)

Decorative Papers Exhibit

This fantastic exhibit shows how paste papers and marble papers are made, and how we use these papers in Conservation. It includes images from our recent paste paper workshop, sample images from papers found in the Jantz German Baroque and German Americana Collections, and binding models with hand-made decorated papers created by lab staff, and much more!  Located in Perkins LL1, outside Room 023.  Duke University Library staff may read more about this in the November 2008 IB.

(Displayed October 2008 – March 2009)