This week we moved out of the lab so that the construction crew could proceed with the Rubenstein Renovation Project. They need to remove our ceiling, take out old HVAC ducts and water pipes, and install new ducts and pipes. We have known for about a year that we would have to move out. The serious “down to brass tacks” planning started about five or six months ago.Packing up the lab.
Our temporary space is a conference room and not designed to be a conservation lab. The challenge for our planning was to stay productive while working in a space about a third the size of the lab that has no water, sink, fume hood or the other equipment we have come to rely on. We also needed to figure out where and how to store our large equipment; negotiate storage space for library materials that are awaiting treatment; collaborate with our colleagues to adjust workflows; and physically move important files and materials that we wanted to move ourselves.
The plan involved moving some materials to locked stacks, move as much large equipment and supplies as could fit into our dirty room and computer nook, moving supplies and equipment to our new room, and moving the remaining furniture to off site storage. It’s a good thing we specialize in organized workflows.Moving Day
Moving Day came this past Monday, and continued through lunchtime on Tuesday. Most of the day went off without a hitch, and the small glitches that did occur were quickly remedied. It was an all-hands-on-deck situation with both planned and on-the-spot move assignments being made. Everyone worked together to ensure the safe move of all of our stuff, and what a lot of stuff it was.Moving the large board shear.
There are so many people to thank that helped us in our move. Staff from the library helped by making space for us to store materials, by moving meetings to other rooms, by coordinating movers, etc. We had three people from Rubenstein Library come and help us pack when we needed extra hands. The Lock Shop even came over to take the door off the hinges so we could get the board shear through the door. Everyone we asked seemed more than happy and willing to help us in our time of need. I am so thankful that we work with such amazing and helpful colleagues.Our Temporary Lab Our temporary lab is cozy, but at least it has windows!
Our new space is small, but our planning has paid off. We have five benches for all the staff, students and our volunteer to share. We moved the large board shear, a couple of shelving units, secure storage units, and several book trucks into the space. We also made sure to have room to move around and maneuver trucks to benches. The best part of the new space is that we have windows! Not since our original lab space have we been able to see the outside world during work hours. We will enjoy every minute of those, especially if this beautiful weather continues.What We Are Learning
While it is difficult and stressful to move, we are learning there are other benefits besides the windows. First, moving gave us an opportunity to clean out stuff we no longer use or want. Everyone needs a good clearing-out now and then to create space and reduce clutter.
Now that we are in our temporary space, more people are becoming aware of Conservation because we are in a much more public space. We are interacting with library staff that we would normally not have a chance to talk to since we are more visible. Additionally, several people have stopped by to see our space. We are thinking of hosting a pop-up open house next week just for fun since so many people are curious about who just moved into Room 118.
You can see more images of our move on Flickr.
We are undergoing an epic boxing day…boxing the entire lab to move temporarily off site. Construction work needs to be done in our ceiling, which means we need to move out to make way. We are packing up the entire lab and moving some of it to temporary space, some will go into storage. If all goes well, we will be back into the lab in mid-December. Wish us luck!
We love getting Boxing Day books from Rubenstein Library Technical Services, especially pulps from the 60′s, 70′s and 80′s. When you open the crate, you never know what you are going to get. Today the crate was filled with Horror! Fantasy! Choose your own adventure tales! All with some pretty amazing cover art. Happy Halloween!Be afraid. Be very afraid!
We are all still talking about the shear amount of information we learned last week at “Photo Conservation for Book and Paper Conservators,” taught by Gawain Weaver and Jennifer Olsen of Gawain Weaver Art Conservation.
Colleagues from across the country came to the Verne and Tanya Roberts Conservation lab for this event. We had people from California, Colorado, Iowa, Kansas, New York, Minnesota, and of course several from the Raleigh-Durham-Chapel Hill area (Duke, UNC Chapel Hill and the NC State Archives). Some work in university libraries and archives, others in private practice, and some in other types of organizations. It was a great mix of experiences and perspectives.
This workshop was geared toward mid-career conservators who already have a fundamental understanding of materials and solvents, experience in evaluating the condition of materials, and experience in making treatment decisions. The goal was to give paper and book conservators hands-on experience working with various historic and modern photographic processes and to get us more comfortable in doing so.Jennifer Olsen (R) and Gawain Weaver (L).
Gawain and Jennifer are very generous teachers. They use a good mix of demonstration, hands-on practicums and lectures to get the information across. We were also able to work with samples of actual photographs, which helped move theory into practice. We learned about removing silver mirroring, removing photos stuck to glass, attaching and removing heat set tissue, and various methods of mechanical and chemical surface cleaning. We also discussed disaster recovery, mold removal, humidifying and flattening, housing options, and general mending.Clara and Whitney discussing treatment options.
We participated because so much of our photographic collections are valued primarily for their informational content, not their artistic value (although that isn’t always the case). Therefore, they do not rise to the level that would trigger sending them out for treatment. Yet, some of our photos need more treatment than simply housing. I think we all came away with a better understanding of what we can do even though photographs are not are area of expertise.
What I value most about last week is the camaraderie of professionals learning from each other; meeting new colleagues and working with long-time friends; being treated professionally by people outside your specialty; learning skills that would otherwise be difficult to learn; and walking away knowing more about when you should and shouldn’t undertake treatment. I also enjoyed the parts that began with the caveat, “You would never do this with real objects, but watch what happens when you do!”
Last day of class and we are knee deep in attaching and removing various heat set tissues. We removed them mechanically with a variety of implements, and attempted to remove them chemically with varying success. I have a feeling some of these were successful only because they haven’t been sitting in an attic or outbuilding for 50 years. Maybe some artificial aging of the samples is in order.
Thanks to the Nasher Museum for lending us their heat set press. We wouldn’t have been able to do any of the last day without it.
Day 3 of photo conservation for book and paper conservators was incredibly busy. We learned about platinum prints, then got to work experimenting on a variety of color print technologies. We tried tape removal techniques and played “what would happen if…?” by cutting up color prints and immersing them in various solvents. The sounds coming from the fume hood were similar to those at a fireworks show.
We ended the day learning about a brief history of cold-press and heat-set tissues, and prepped for today’s session of sticking photos to things and unsticking them from things.
On Day 2 of the photo conservation workshop we concentrated on silver gelatin prints. We learned how to dry clean surfaces, a couple techniques for removing silver mirroring, and attempted to remove prints that were stuck to glass.
One of the best things about workshops like this is learning tips from each other, and learning that when you find things difficult it may not be your skills that are faulty. It may be that the treatment is difficult even for very skilled professionals and almost always leads to heartbreak [see also: removing prints stuck to glass].
Day one of “Photo Conservation for Book and Paper Conservators” was incredibly informative. Tuesday we learned some basic early silver print history and manufacture, and how to dry- and wet-clean albumen prints.
The class is made up of conservators from all over the country, in private practice, libraries and archives. It’s fun to study with long-time friends and to meet new colleagues. We are looking forward to day two.
Image from Ophthalmodouleia, das ist Augendienst… by George Bartisch. Published in 1583, this item was on display for the Animated Anatomies exhibit.
Photo by Mark Zupan, Senior Graphic Designer for Duke University Libraries.
Today marks the fifth birthday of our sister blog The Devil’s Tale.
Happy birthday Devil’s Tale, and may you post many more eye opening dispatches from the Rubenstein Rare Book and Manuscript Library.
I’m always late in honoring the American Library Association’s Banned Book Week. I’d like to say it is because I believe in celebrating banned and challenged books all year ’round, which I do, but really it’s just been so busy here that it completely took me by surprise.
So, in honor of Banned Books Week and brilliant writers everywhere who write about difficult truths (or just plain human truths), we have placed a few frequently challenged titles on our Adopt-a-Book page. Adopt the conservation of a banned book today (better late than never)!
Upcoming NCPC Conference: Significant Preservation: Inventories and Assessments for Strategic Planning
From the NCPC Press release:Significant Preservation: Inventories and Assessments for Strategic Planning
North Carolina Preservation Consortium Annual Conference
William and Ida Friday Center for Continuing Education
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
November 7, 2014
Inventories and assessments of heritage collections and sites are vital for meaningful strategic planning that conveys the importance of allocating scarce resources for preservation programs. Establishing the significance of tangible heritage to the communities we serve is essential for prioritizing conservation, storage, exhibition, and emergency planning decisions to protect cultural treasures for present and future generations. This conference will help you influence organizational, political, and community leaders who have the authority to improve preservation funding. Register today for a valuable learning experience with state, national, and international preservation leaders.Keynote Speakers
Veronica Bullock is the Co-founder and Director of Significance International. She holds a bachelor’s degree in Prehistory/Archaeology from the Australian National University and a master’s degree in Applied Science (Materials Conservation) from the University of Western Sydney. Her fellowship at the International Center for the Study of the Preservation and Restoration of Cultural Property explored how significance assessments and risk assessments are taught in graduate conservation programs in Australia, Canada, the United States, and several countries in Europe. Ms. Bullock will provide an overview of the Significance Assessment methodology developed by the Collections Council of Australia.
Lisa Ackerman is the Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer of the World Monuments Fund and a Visiting Assistant Professor at the Pratt Institute. She holds a BA from Middlebury College, an MS in historic preservation from the Pratt Institute, and an MBA from New York University. Her professional service has included membership on the boards of the Historic House Trust of New York City, New York Preservation Archive Project, St. Ann Center for Restoration and the Arts, Partners for Sacred Places, Neighborhood Preservation Center, and the U.S. National Committee of the International Council on Monuments and Sites. Ms. Ackerman will present an introduction to the Arches heritage inventory and management system.
Dr. Paul R. Green is a Cultural Resources Specialist for the U.S. Air Force Civil Engineer Center, an Adjunct Associate Professor at Old Dominion University, and a modern Monuments Man. He holds a BS from Marshall University, MA from the University of Missouri-Columbia, and a PhD in Anthropology (Archaeology) from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Dr. Green is a member of the U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM) Historical/Cultural Advisory Group and the International Military Cultural Resources Working Group. He will address the challenges and importance of prioritizing global heritage collections and sites for the protection of cultural property during war and armed conflicts.Lightening Session Speakers
Martha Battle Jackson is Chief Curator for North Carolina Historic Sites. She will provide an overview of the Museum Assessment Program (MAP) for Collection Stewardship sponsored by the American Alliance of Museums.
Andrea Gabriel is Outreach & Development Coordinator for the North Carolina State Archives. She will present an introduction to the Traveling Archivist Program (TAP) administered by the North Carolina Office of Archives & History.
David Goist is a painting conservator in private practice. He will give an overview of the Conservation Assessment Program (CAP) sponsored by Heritage Preservation.
For more information on the conference schedule, registration, scholarships, etc., see the NCPC events page.
Erin came up with a great idea to track the repair papers that we order. Each time we order a new paper she snips a small sample piece and attaches it to this grid that she created. There is room in the description area to list the vendor, the item number from their catalog, the price and when and how much we ordered it.
This has helped a great deal especially in re-ordering paper that we may not order on a regular basis. It’s also fun to see these all together to get an idea of the color ranges and weights of the repair tissues we have. It provides more information than a spreadsheet alone could provide. It’s a good thing!
Due to the renovation and the resultant problems, our productivity is slightly down because we had to close the lab for a month due to the Great Flood of 2013. We had a couple smaller leaks due to the fact we have had no roof on the building next to us, and we have lost two of our rooms. Ahhhh, renovation. All things considered, I think have done remarkably well in keeping up our productivity.
Fiscal Year 2013-2014 Statistics
Last year 17,134 library items came through Conservation. The numbers break down in this way:
1,126 books repaired
2,873 pamphlets bound
533 flat paper repairs
4,755 protective enclosures*
7,817 items recovered from mold/water
86 exhibit mounts (356 hours of exhibit support)
65% of the work came from special collections
35% of the work came from the circulating collections
28% of our total output was creating custom enclosures
46% of our total output was removing mold from manuscripts
68% of non-enclosure work was Level 1 projects [less than 15 minutes]
20% of non-enclosure work was Level 2 projects [15 minutes to 2 hours]
4% of non-enclosure work was Level 3 projects [over 2 hours]
*CoLibri has declined significantly now that new publisher’s bindings with book jackets come shelf ready with a protective cover.
Of course, not everything we do necessarily results in a tic mark on a stat sheet. We revamped our student job duties to free up more time for our technicians. We added a “Boxing Day” a week to Tedd’s duties to keep up with all the boxing requests from Rubenstein Library. We did a lot of giving back to the conservation community by presenting at AIC, ALA and the Triangle Research Libraries consortium, and three of us developed new workshops. Two were presented for the North Carolina Preservation Consortium, and one for Paper & Book Intensive. We’d love to see other labs tweet out or share their stats.
As you know, we like to stop our production work every now and then to learn something new. In June we sent representatives to both the American Institution for Conservation and the Canadian Association for Conservation annual meetings.
This was the first year we sent someone to the CAC conference. Grace attended and brought back information including an interesting use of magnets to hang a traveling exhibit of vary large artwork. What she liked most about the CAC conference is that the specialties do not break up into separate sessions like we do at AIC.
Erin and I discussed the sessions we attended at AIC including the Book and Paper Group Tips Session (always a favorite). Erin had the great idea to have an “Experiment Day” to try some of these tips. She worked with Rachel to get supplies and organize a few of the tips that seemed most useful. Rachel demonstrated a hinging technique she uses that is similar to the one Terry Marsh offered (read by Anisha Gupta) at the tips session. Erin then demonstrated other tips including a dry tear technique presented by Bill Minter, and a technique for relaxing lined artwork presented by Betsy Palmer Eldridge. It was a fun way to bring back information from a conference and experiment a little to see if we can integrate some of these techniques into our workflows.