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.
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.”
After treatment: Metal staples replaced with thread.
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:
Each bar code is scanned as an image and is transcribed on the right-hand column.
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.
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 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.
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.
The Conservation Unit was featured in the January/February 2010 edition of Duke Magazine. Included in the article are descriptions of the Conservation lab, the types of work performed by Conservation staff, and the different tools used.
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.
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.
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.
The Preservation Department got its start in 2000. This exhibit looks at the development of the department from its beginning to our new space in Perkins Library. The exhibit includes a time line of important events in our history, images of digital projects and conservation treatments, as well as some artifacts that demonstrate what we do. Located in Perkins LL1, outside Room 023.
This year marks the Preservation Department’s tenth year serving the Duke University Libraries. This exhibit celebrates the work of the conservation laboratory by displaying a variety of different treatments from the libraries collections. The department is planning several events to mark the occasion which includes this exhibit, an open house, and interviews with staff members; for more information visit Preservation Underground.
The Preservation Department’s new exhibit highlights work from the Triangle Research Libraries (TRLN) Master Bookbinders Group. Our group consists of staff members from the conservation labs of UNC-Chapel Hill, NC State and Duke University libraries. Its purpose is to research historic bookbindings to deepen our understanding of the history of the book, and develop knowledge and skills that help inform our daily conservation work.