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Updated: 47 min 41 sec ago

Papyrus Project Final Update: It Is Finished For Real This Time

Tue, 2015-08-11 14:35

The papyri collection is finally in its new home in the renovated Rubenstein Library stacks. We successfully completed its move yesterday to the new vaults. Part 1 of this project started in 2010 as a proposal for a new housing strategy for the papyri. In 2012 the project began in earnest as we prepared the collections for the move out of the old stacks to make way for renovation. We finished the project in 2013 and moved the papyri to the temporary Rubenstein stacks on the third floor of Perkins Library.

Papyri in their new(ish) boxes in the renovated stacks.Papyri in their new(ish) boxes in the renovated stacks.

Yesterday we moved the collection into its new home in the renovated Rubenstein stacks. They are now in a cool, dry and stable environment, with fire sprinklers even! I nearly shed a tear of joy when we placed the last box on their new shelves.

If you haven’t been reading The Devil’s Tale posts about the move, you really should. There are some great posts there and on the Duke Libraries Tumblr, including this little gif I made when enveloping books. I cannot wait until all of the collection is moved home.

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Moving Special Collections, Again

Wed, 2015-08-05 11:45

If you are a long-time reader you may remember a couple years ago we embarked on a large-scale enclosure project to prepare special collections materials for the their move prior to renovation. We called it the “Enabling Project.” Now that the Rubenstein Library collections are moving back, we are finding that we need to do some additional enveloping for fragile items with loose parts or furniture.

Insert into Tyvek envelope, seal, label, repeat.Insert into Tyvek envelope, seal, label, repeat.

This time we won’t be doing thousands of items, perhaps only a few hundred. The Tyvek envelopes allow us to keep pieces together, keep furniture from scratching neighboring books, and tells us at a glance the amount of work the collection needs. It’s both good and daunting to see. If you want to see this “in action,” visit our Tumblr post.

Before and after enveloping.Before and after enveloping.

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Quick Pic: Work Comes In, Work Goes Out

Fri, 2015-07-24 17:11

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.

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(Re)Encapsulating a Lot of Maps

Thu, 2015-06-11 20:00

Have you noticed that the most simple-seeming projects always turn out to be more complicated than you think? As part of our preparations to move our collections to our renovated library, we are trying to free up space in the flat files. Our flat files contain broadsides, maps, posters, artwork, etc. Many of these items are large and flat and should be in the flat files. Many are flat but are small enough to fit into standard manuscript boxes or pamphlet binders.  Last November we embarked on a project to help the Rubenstein Library move as many of the smaller maps as possible into enclosures to free up space in the flat files. Sounds easy, right?

First Challenge: To Keep the Old Encapsulation or Not

I am an advocate of NOT encapsulating materials unless it is necessary to facilitate handling. Polyester is expensive, and it can add a lot of weight to the stacks. It can also make handling difficult for patrons as they sift through a stack of slippery encapsulated documents.

Many of these maps didn’t need to be encapsulated. They are in good condition and a folder inside a box would suffice. However, in order to finish the project by the move date, we would need to utilize our student assistants and our volunteer. If we decided to de-encapsulate materials, it would mean a conservator would have to evaluate the condition of each item to determine its disposition.  There simply wasn’t time to do this.

In consultation with Rubenstein staff, we decided the maps would stay encapsulated in their old polyester if possible. We would replace the polyester only if an item didn’t fit its current encapsulation, or if the old polyester was too damaged to keep.

Second Challenge: All That Tape!

Almost all of the maps have been previously encapsulated using double stick tape to adhere the two pieces of polyester together. While this is a common method of encapsulation, it poses one big problem. A document can shift to the edge and become stuck. This poses a particular hazard for brittle materials. Lucky for us, most of our maps were encapsulated with a generous amount of space between the object and the tape.

We decided that we could ultrasonically weld between the object and the tape, trim the tape off, and voila! A retrofitted encapsulation.

Brittle map edge is stuck to the tape.Brittle map edge is stuck to the taped polyester sheets. Third Challenge: Size Matters

As we looked through the thirty drawers of materials it became clear that some of the old encapsulations just weren’t working. There were several items that had  encapsulations that were too small. Some large folded items were put still folded into an L-sleeve encapsulation. Handling is awkward, and unfolded these items became too large for either the manuscript boxes or the flat files.

Rubenstein staff decided on two standard manuscript box sizes and two standard pamplet-binder sizes.  Anything that could go into one of these would do so. Any folded item would be unfolded. If an item was too big for a box, it would remain in a folder in a flat file. If it was too big to lay flat in the current flat files, we would wait to encapsulate it until we were in our new space with our new, bigger flat files. There are a few items that are  in too bad of a condition to safely re-encapsulate. These will come to conservation for treatment first.

mapsMaps in new manuscript boxes. Fourth Challenge: The Weird Stuff

There is a lot of weird stuff in libraries and not everything in the map drawers are maps. As we work our way through the map collection we are setting these oddities aside for curatorial review. Some will end up back in the flat files, some will be the responsibility of Collection Development to deal with.

The Project So Far

To date we have encapsulated 1,865 items.  By our estimates we are about 90% finished, but what is left is some of the oddball items that need special attention by conservation, curators and by technical services. Technical services will also have to update the new locations, which they will do during the reclass project. Did I mention Rubenstein is also doing a huge reclass project during the move? We don’t believe in doing only one huge project at a time, that would be too easy.

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Christmas Came Early

Fri, 2015-05-29 18:03

As many readers know, we lost our photo documentation room in November 2013 to a renovation-related flood. We got it back for a on December 15, 2014 only to lose it again to another renovation issue on January on January 29, 2015. Today we got it back, and this time for good (everyone knock on wood). It is such a gift to not have our dirty room doubling as a photo doc room as well. Here’s the before:

The dirty room doubling as photo doc room.

Here is the dirty room today.

The dirty room all cleaned up.The dirty room all cleaned up.

And here is the photo doc room.

The photo doc room, semi-cleaned up.The photo doc room, semi-cleaned up.

We still have to put the photo doc set-up back in place, but what a great present to get this room back today!

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