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Duke University Libraries Preservation
Updated: 1 hour 21 min ago

1091 Project: 5 Days of Preservation

Fri, 07/18/2014 - 21:00

1091 graphicKevin Driedger, author of Library Preservation 2, had a brilliant idea to ask institutions with preservation and conservation responsibilities to post at least one picture a day this week on the theme, “This is what preservation looks like.” Everyone tagged their posts with #5DaysOfPreservation. Search the hashtag on Twitter, Tumblr, Facebook and you will see hundreds of images from across the country. He’s also collected the entries on a Tumbler.

For our contributions we divided the post responsibilities between Conservation, Preservation and the Digital Production Center. On Monday, we visited Conservation as they made custom enclosures for some very old pin cushions.

On Tuesday we visited Winston Atkins, Preservation Officer, as he was working on reconciling the just-ended fiscal year budget. As he reminded us, “What we do is administration, after all.” That is one of the hidden secrets of library preservation, we do a lot of paperwork, research, writing, program administration and attend a lot of meetings to gather information to help form our vision for the preservation program’s future.

On Wednesday, we went over to the Digital Production Center to see Zeke digitizing the Duke Chronicle, our campus student newspaper. This digital collection has proved to be one of our most successful projects, and more issues will be available soon.

Thursday we were back in the conservation lab with our student, Wolfgang, who was putting CoLibri (TM) covers on books from our New & Noteworthy collection. These covers protect the publisher’s dust jacket, are non-adhesive and take just a couple minutes to complete.

On Thursday we got two more posts from the Digital Production Center. Mike was working on preparing digital files for transfer into the Duke Digital Repository.

And Alex was working on reformatting videotape to preservation standards.

Friday was a flurry of activity. We found Beth and Rachel changing out the board shear blades in the conservation lab.

And finally we visit the not-so-attractive but vitally necessary job of insect monitoring.

Overall I think Kevin’s idea was a huge hit, and we should all do this again. So often preservation and conservation are hidden in basements or offsite, and I sometimes thing that even our own colleague may not know what we do every day. #5DaysOfPreservation demonstrates the wide variety of services we provide for our institutions and how we contribute to the accessibility of our collections. Let’s go see what Parks Library Preservation’s contributions were this week. What did you do post? Put your links in the comments.


Quick Pic: Touring Conservation

Thu, 07/03/2014 - 15:10

Yesterday a colleague brought his six-year-old son to Conservation for a tour. We all showed him things were were working on including Star Wars: The Blue Prints. He apparently had such a good experience he wrote about it in his journal. His dad shared a picture of his entry with us, and gave us permission to post the picture. Enjoy!

"July 2 2014 It was cool at Duke we soo [saw] a lot of pepole. We I soo [saw] a Star Ware book. Dad showed a Bat Man comix. Whe soo a leter from George Washington in 1773."

“July 2 2014
It was cool at Duke we soo [saw] a lot of pepole. We I soo [saw] a Star Ware book. Dad showed a Bat Man comix. Whe soo a leter from George Washington in 1773.”

Quick Pic: When Things Go Wrong

Mon, 06/23/2014 - 18:30


I love when things go spectacularly wrong.

Making Burritos In Conservation

Wed, 06/11/2014 - 12:56

It’s been a while since we talked about the renovation project, mostly because of this. But yesterday I was working on a short video to explain how to make a “burrito” and was reflecting on why and how these came to be.

Our renovation project came at us fast due to a major gift that allowed us to accelerate the renovation schedule. We had just over a year to plan and move the special collections stacks to make way for demolition. That is not a lot of time to move an entire library of rare, valuable and decidedly fragile materials.

The library approached us with a problem. Many of the older flat archival boxes were too large for their contents. Staff were concerned that moving these off site would cause damage when the objects shifted around inside the boxes. Could we come up with a low cost, low tech, fast, anyone-can-do-it solution?

We sat down as a lab to brainstorm ideas. There was no way to pay for and manufacture hundreds of corrugated-board spacers for all of the boxes we needed to move off site. After a lot of thought, we developed “the burrito.”

These are made of  buffered 10-point folder stock and tissue paper. They are non-adhesive, easy to make, fast and just about anyone could make them. We pre-cut the folder stock to the standard box sizes and trained the Rubenstein staff to make the burritos.

These are meant to be a temporary solution. However, I’ve seen some of these boxes come back and I have to say they are working pretty well. They aren’t as sturdy as a corrugated spacer, and some of them aren’t quite the right size for the space they were meant to fill, but for the most part they are doing what they were designed to do. I think it is a solution that works, and could be a good one for small institutions and organizations who may not have a lot of resources, or for anyone faced with a mountain of boxes that need spacers in a hurry.

What do you think? Have you come up with a solution like this that you want to share?


Our First Adopt-a-Book Repairs

Mon, 06/02/2014 - 20:30

By Erin Hammeke, Senior Conservator

gulliverDUL recently launched an Adopt-a-Book program and I just completed the conservation treatment of some our first adoptees. Jonathan Swift’s “Travels into Several Remote Nations of the World”, otherwise known as Gulliver’s Travels, was printed in four parts in London from 1726-1727 and our set was bound into two full-leather volumes.

Both volumes had loose or detached boards and had previous leather spine repairs. I secured the attachment of loose boards by using a treatment technique called a board tacket. This repair requires lifting small patches on the spine and inside of the board and reattaching the board with discrete stitches or tackets formed between the text and board with linen thread. I put the lifted patches back down with adhesive and applied small tissue repairs to the joints, end caps, and spines. The two volume set looks better now and is much safer to handle.

Thanks to our anonymous donor for adopting Gulliver! We look forward to seeing more Adopt-a-Book items make their way through the lab.

gulliver bt 2

Gulliver’s Travels before treatment.

Gulliver's Travels before treatment.

Gulliver’s Travels before treatment.

Gulliver's Travels after treatment.

Gulliver’s Travels after treatment.

Gulliver's Travels after treatment.

Gulliver’s Travels after treatment.

Decades of Dust

Thu, 05/08/2014 - 15:56
Henckel press3

Beth vacuums dust from the Henkel press.

Today is a big day in the library and it is graduation weekend. You want the library to look its best all of the time but especially so at times like these.

While Meg was installing the new exhibit, we noticed that a few feet away our Henkel press was really dusty. I got out the trusty HEPA museum vacuum and cleaned a lot of dust from the press. I suspect the dust on the Swiffers may now be archival since it dates to the old hallway area that is now under construction.

Duke University acquired the press in 1931 from the Henkel family. It is the press that the Henkel family used to print most of their early 19th Century books. Ambrose Henkel purchased it sometime before 1810 for $135.00. The screw was made by Henry Ouram in Philadelphia. The press is constructed in the style of Adam Ramage, also of Philadelphia, who is credited with making about 1,250 of these “lightweight” presses.* It is now clean and ready should a certain famous rock musician decide to visit the exhibit.

*This information is from the sign on the press, author unknown.

Quick Pic: Examining Scrolls

Fri, 05/02/2014 - 19:41
examining a scroll

Examining a long Japanese scroll.

Today we got to use our new sit-stand table to roll out a Japanese scroll. We are excited about our new tables, they replace low tables that were immobile and difficult to work on. These have wheels and fit through the doors, so they can go anywhere in the lab and can adjust from a sitting height to chin-height. They are perfect for large objects like this Japanese scroll.

Here left to right are Lauren (Rubenstein), Grace (Conservation), Andy (Rubenstein) and Kris (DUL International Studies) are all helping to identify this object. I love when we can bring in experts from around the library to discuss treatment and housing options. Conservation is truly interdisciplinary in that way, and its one of the most satisfying parts of our work.

1091 Project: Secret Lives of Conservation Labs

Fri, 04/18/2014 - 14:59

1091 graphicThis month on the 1091 Project we are talking tours. I recorded eight official tours so far this fiscal year. These included tours for library donors and prospective donors; the Library Council, a group of faculty that meet with the library’s Executive Group during the school year; and most recently to the Alumni Association during the annual Alumni Weekend. That tour consisted of about 20 people, but we have had as much as twice that on large tours.

Henry Wilhelm (right) and John Baty (yellow shirt) tour DPC.

Henry Wilhelm (right) and John Baty (yellow shirt) tour DPC. Alex (left), Zeke (back to camera) from DPC, and Atlas from Internet Archives explain their work.

We also give a lot of informal, spur of the moment tours that don’t make it to the “official” record. These tours are generally for new staff and interns, faculty and visiting scholars, and other interested individuals. This year we gave a tour for artist Bea Nettles, and Henry Wilhelm, of Wilhelm Imaging Research, and John Baty, a conservation scientist. Wilhelm and Baty also toured LSC and DPC.

Tours are  an important development tool. They are also a chance to educate people about the work we do, why the work is important and how it relates to the mission of the Library. I love to see people’s faces light up when they realize that you can wash paper or resew a book and make it whole again. Of course the best part is showing off our highly skilled and talented staff.

Bea Nettles talks books with Erin (left) and Tedd (right).

Bea Nettles talks books with Erin (left) and Tedd (right).

I know some labs include tours in their yearly stats. I report our big tours in our fiscal year report, but I don’t record every tour we give. I would love to hear your experience with documenting tours and/or how you report tours to your administration in your year-end reports.

Let’s head to Parks Library Preservation to see what they do with tour groups.




Happy 11th Equipment Day!

Wed, 04/09/2014 - 13:02
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.







Quick Pic: 9th Annual Edible Book Festival

Tue, 04/08/2014 - 19:15
Silence of the Yams

“Silence of the Yams”

April 1st marked our 9th annual Edible Book Festival. We raised over $400 for the Duke Libraries Memorial Fund through our silent auction.

Thanks to the following for donating prizes:

A big thank-you to everyone who entered, bid, and helped set up the festival. Thanks especially to Mark Z. for taking pictures. It takes a village to put on this event and we are deeply appreciative of the support we get from our Library and our colleagues.

Winners of the popular vote:

Images of  all of the entries are on Flickr. Which entry is your favorite?

Learning Together: Leather Repair Tips and Tricks

Fri, 04/04/2014 - 18:35

lab workshopSo much of what we know as conservators is based on learning at the elbow of someone else. Discovering the perfect tip or trick is immensely valuable and can mean the difference between an elegant repair and one that is “good enough.”

This week we held an extended in-house workshop covering several types of leather repair techniques: headcap repair, Etherington tissue hinge, Brock split hinge repair, tacketing and rebacking. Our colleague, Craig Fansler, came up from Wake Forest University to learn along side us.

inserting headcap tissue

Mary shows us headcap fills.

Mary demonstrated reconstructing damaged leather headcaps. This repair needs to not only look good, but it needs to function well and stand up to the flexing of the spine. Mary is very skilled at making these repairs, so she showed us her tips on creating well integrated and beautiful replacement headcaps.

Along the way we discussed the benefits of various adhesives and how to maximize their working properties to achieve the desired outcome.

Erin demonstrated the Etherington tissue hinge, tacketing, the Brock split linen hinge, and rebacking with leather. She showed us some of her prior rebacks to help us understand what the end result should look like, and had models for each of the repairs so we could see those as well. We discussed the benefits and detractions of each repair and why we would select one type of repair over another.

The most important tips we learned during our session were

  • Selection is key to a successful repair, and
  • Repairs should be done in stages and allowed to dry in between each stage. Going slowly and deliberately will lead to better decisions and a better final product.

tacket drilling 2

Erin demonstrates board tacketing.

leather paring_craig

Craig practices lifting brittle leather.

I am very grateful to have such talented colleagues who are willing to share their expertise. Through this sort of collaborative training we can learn new skills and continue the tradition of passing on our knowledge.