Conservation Services has been working closely with staff from our Digital Production Center this week to train in the operation of our new multispectral imaging equipment and learn about image processing. During the calibration and testing of the machine we took the opportunity to re-image the illuminated manuscript leaf which I posted on back in the summer. The palimpsest is so clearly legible in these new photos! We are very excited by the possibilities that this new imaging equipment opens for learning more about our collection materials.
We started Preservation Underground in 2009 as a way to bring our work out of the basement and into the light. In the past seven years, we’ve had some fun and we’ve had some disasters. What we really hope is that we’ve shown you a little bit of what we do and why our work is so important.Glass eyeballs from the History of Medicine Collection. Here’s looking at you, statistics!
We wanted to take a look back at some data about our blog and highlight our most-favorited posts. The data is a bit sticky because WordPress analytics appear to begin in March 2011, while Google analytics start in September 2012. But, as my grad school chemistry professor always said, “Close enough for conservation.”
WordPress analytics appear to begin in March 2011…
87, 940 total views
Google Analytics start in September 2012
Only reporting 9,000 page views
Traffic from 95 countries.
These posts received the most hits the past seven years:
- Quick Pic: Mysterious Messages (January 2012)
- 1091 Project: Making Enclosures (March 2012)
- Hold me closer… protective enclosure (January 2016)
- Florence: Days of Destruction (A Film by Franco Zeffirelli) (February 2012)
- DIY Book Repair And Its Consequences (July 2012)
- Why I Hate Mr. Clippy (January 2013)
- The ‘Largest Sheet of Paper Ever Made and Printed’ (October 2015)
Do you have a favorite post you want to share? if so, tell us in the comments.
It’s ALCTS preservation award nomination season! The deadline for nominations for all of these awards is December 1, 2016. If you know someone outstanding in the field, please get your nomination in on time. My favorite time of the year is when we honor, acknowledge and thank someone for their dedication to the field and to us all who work in it.
There are more ALCTS awards than are copied below, including awards for publication, innovation and collaboration. Please visit the ALCTS awards website for more information. Follow the links below for instructions for submitting nominations.The Paul Banks and Carolyn Harris Preservation Award
This award was established to honor the memory of Paul Banks and Carolyn Harris, early leaders in library preservation. The award will be given to recognize the contribution of a professional preservation specialist who has been active in the field of preservation and/or conservation for library and/or archival materials.Criteria
Criteria for selection of the winner will be determined by the person’s accomplishments, as they relate to preservation leadership in such activities as:
- leadership in professional associations at local, state, regional or national level;
- contributions to the development, application or utilization of new or improved methods, techniques and routines;
- evidence of studies or research in preservation;
- significant contribution to professional literature;
- training and mentoring in the field of preservation.
This award honors the memory of George Cunha and Susan Swartzburg, early leaders in cooperative preservation programming and strong advocates for collaboration in the field of preservation.
The award, sponsored by Hollinger Metal Edge, acknowledges and supports cooperative preservation projects and/or rewards individuals or groups that foster collaboration for preservation goals. Recipients of the award demonstrate vision, endorse cooperation, and advocate for the preservation of published and primary source resources that capture the richness of our cultural patrimony. The award recognizes the leadership and initiative required to build collaborative networks designed to achieve specific preservation goals. Since collaboration, cooperation, advocacy and outreach are key strategies that epitomize preservation, the award promotes cooperative efforts and supports equitable preservation among all libraries, archives and historical institutions.Criteria
The award jury will consider:
- a project emphasizing collaboration or partnership
- collaboration extending the preservation vision beyond the circle of preservation specialists and foster action to raise awareness and set priorities, projects, and programs into motion
- nomination of an individual or group for cumulative achievement as a mentor or advocate of collaborative preservation.
Any person or group is eligible for this award; membership in the ALA organization is not required.Jan Merrill-Oldham Professional Development Grant
The award was established in 2011 by the Preservation and Reformatting Section (PARS) of the Association for Library Collections & Technical Services (ALCTS) to honor the career and influence of Jan Merrill-Oldham, distinguished leader, author, and mentor in the field of library and archives preservation.
For three decades, Ms. Merrill-Oldham was instrumental in the development of standards and best practices, writing more than forty publications including co-authoring the Guide to the ANSI/NISO/LBI Library Binding Standard, a document used by almost all libraries and commercial library binders. Ms. Merrill-Oldham served on key committees within ALCTS, ALA, the Association of Research Libraries, the Council on Library and Information Resources, the National Information Standards Organization and many others. She educated and mentored countless preservation librarians and conservators and her support for students and dedication to the field serves as a model to all of us. In September of 2010, Ms. Merrill-Oldham announced her retirement after a long and notable career in library and archives preservation. In December 2010, she was named the recipient of the ALCTS Ross Atkinson Lifetime Achievement Award. This award recognizes Jan Merrill-Oldham’s wide ranging contributions, deep commitment to the field of library and archives preservation, and her undying support of young professionals by supporting participation in an ALA Annual Conference.
It is important however to encourage new and young preservation librarians and staff to further pursue their professional development. A significant part of that involvement is attending the ALA Annual Conference to network and learn from colleagues. Ms. Merrill-Oldham dedicated herself to mentoring young professionals and it is in recognition of that service that an award that supports professional development and involvement by librarians and paraprofessionals new to the preservation field be established.
The Jan Merrill-Oldham Professional Development Grant is awarded by the ALCTS Preservation and Reformatting Section to provide librarians and paraprofessionals new to the preservation field with the opportunity to attend a professional conference and encourages professional development through active participation at the national level. The grant is to be used for airfare, lodging, and registration fees to attend the ALA Annual Conference.Criteria
Criteria for selection will be determined based on the following:
- Have five or fewer years of experience in the field of library and archives preservation.
- Currently work as a librarian or paraprofessional within a library or archives preservation department or who has preservation responsibilities within their institution, or a person currently enrolled in a preservation-related graduate program.
- Recommendations from colleagues.
- Express desire as stated in a short essay (up to 500 words) on the following theme:
How would receiving the Jan Merrill-Oldham Professional Development Grant further your professional development goals?
- Willingness to participate in designated conference events:
- Work with a member of the jury to identify relevant programs and interest group sessions to attend.
- Attend the Preservation Administration Interest Group Meeting.
- Attend a least one PARS discussion group meeting.
- Submit a summary of the recipient’s conference experience to the ALCTS News no later than 30 days after the conference.
Members of the sponsor or its affiliated organizations are not eligible.
The Tarheels play at Duke this Thursday night- the most recent episode in a very long rivalry. Earlier this year, when I was working on scrapbooks from the Eddie Cameron collection held in the University Archives, I came across this fun piece of ephemera from a game 75 years ago. The Victory Bell did not yet exist when Duke won this game, but the newly decorated bell will certainly ring tomorrow.
Every once in a while we come across a book composed of parts from multiple copies of the same edition, commonly referred to as a made-up copy (Carter, 2004). It can be very difficult to tell if a book is made-up, depending upon how the different pieces were assembled and treated. An item that recently came into the lab provides a fairly obvious example.Visibly smaller section on the right.
This incunable in a 19th century binding contains two gathering (one at the front and another towards the center of the textblock) that are noticeably shorter at the tail and fore-edge. Shorter leaves can indicate a number of things about the production of a binding, including proof (Roberts & Etherington, 1982) that the leaves were not overly trimmed by the binder. In this case, though, other evidence suggests the section came from another binding. It may be difficult to tell in the image above, but the paper of the section on the right is significantly brighter than the sections before and after.Red and blue edge decoration
Additionally, the edges of the shorter section have been treated differently. The image above shows that the edges of the smaller section (left) are colored red, while the rest of the texblock (right) has been sprinkled with blue pigment.In-filled tail edge
It appears that the binder infilled the smaller section at the front to match the size of the surrounding leaves. Similarly toned and textured laid paper has been adhered to the tail edge and at the gutter of each leaf to make them larger. Since the red edge decoration is still visible on these leaves, this was probably done to reduce the risk of handling damage, rather than an attempt to disguise the added gathering.
While the added sections appear somewhat out of place in this binding, I appreciate that the binder did not attempt to hide them by over-trimming the entire textblock or obscuring their red edge decoration. The clear diffirences between paper size, color, and edge treatment provides additional information about the life and use of this object.
Carter, J. (2004). ABC for book collectors (8th ed.). New Castle, DE: Oak Knoll.
Roberts, M. & Etherington, D. (1982). Bookbinding and the conservation of books : a dictionary of descriptive terminology. Washington, D.C.: Library of Congress
By Rachel Pennimen, Senior Conservation TechnicianPhilena McKeen
Recently part of the McKeen-Duren Family papers was brought to the lab. Two boxes of approximately 40 daguerreotypes and ambrotypes were in need of better housing. Most of the photographs are of the close family of Silas McKeen. Silas was born in Corinth, Vermont in 1831 and was a Congregational Minister in Bradford, Vermont for much of his life. At some time, a family member had attached slips of paper inside each of the cases with a description of who was depicted in each photograph. Inside the case of a photograph of Silas’ daughter Philena was a longer caption:
1st photo ever taken in
our family – taken by
Southworth of Boston
when Philena was there
taking music lessons.”
The name Southworth jogged my memory. Back in May we were treating True Flag, a newspaper published in Boston from 1851-1908. While encapsulating an issue from Saturday July 15, 1854, I had noticed an advertisement for daguerreotypes and taken a photograph of it.
Southworth & Hawes was a prominent photography business active in Boston in the mid-1800’s and well known for their portraits of notable people of the day, including Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Ralph Waldo Emerson, and Harriet Beecher Stowe. The daguerreotypes of Albert Sands Southworth and Josiah Johnson Hawes are held today in the collections of The George Eastman House, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, and the Museum of Fine Arts Boston.(All images above from Young America: The Daguerreotypes of Southworth & Hawes by Romer and Wallis)
Like the backdrop on class picture day, it looks like certain props and settings were used repeatedly in the studio of Southworth & Hawes; A table with a floral patterned cloth, a potted plant, and a book seem to have been an especially popular combination of props. The specific fern-patterned cloth draped on the table beside Philena even makes an appearance in a number of other photographs. A daguerreotype of Harriet Beecher Stowe at The Met looks especially similar.Harriet Beecher Stowe (Metropolitan Museum of Art)
Along with celebrities, Southworth and Hawes took a number of photographs of their own family members. Although not the best example of their work, in this photograph of Nancy Southworth Hawes (wife of Josiah Hawes and sister of Albert Southworth) at the MFA in Boston, she appears to be holding the same highly decorated book as Philena.Nancy Southworth Hawes (MFA Boston)
Unlike the fern-patterned cloth and potted plant that popped up again and again, the photo of Philena and the photo of Nancy are the only two I found where this specific book was identifiable. I wonder if the book was just another prop sitting around the studio for patrons to use, or if it held some greater significance. Interestingly, Albert and Nancy Southworth grew up on their parent’s farm in Fairlee, Vermont; less than 10 miles from Philena’s childhood home in Bradford. Is it possible these two families knew each other before meeting again in the Boston photographer’s studio?
We realized we needed some sort of large cart to better move folders from the stacks to the reading room when we expanded our flat file storage to include super-oversized file drawers. After some investigation we settled on the “U-boat.” This custom cart was first introduced to me by Michele Hamill, Paper and Photograph Conservator in the Digitization and Conservation Services Department at Cornell University Library.Cornell’s U-boat in action. (image courtesy Michele Hamill)
The cool thing about its design is the three-tiered storage system. The base is tall enough for a standard archival records box, the middle has a concave section to transport large folders, and the top is a large flat space to place oversize flat boxes. The best part? The top is removable! Once I saw it, I wanted it.
Today was the first opportunity for Conservation to really put the U-boat to use in moving oversize materials. We had to move three super-oversized folders from the lab to the third floor stacks. These folders are about 75 inches long and 50 inches wide, so we brought down the U-boat to transport them.The U-boat ready to roll.
Once the folders were on the cart, we placed a large tube in the middle to stabilize the contents and keep the folders from slipping or folding over. Three of us escorted the cart upstairs to the stacks. Two people steered while one cleared the way and opened doors.The collections in their new super-sized home. The U-boat with its top shelf back in place.
The U-boat was custom made for us by G.S. Manufacturing . It arrived fully assembled and ready to go. While this is the first time I’ve used the U-boat, I often see it in use in the stacks for oversized flat boxes. Is it wrong to fall in love with a cart? Because I believe I have.
In 2014 we implemented our Adopt-a-Book Program. To date over 44 items have been adopted by 22 donors. We started this program as a way to raise money for the conservation of materials from across our collections, especially those that we might need to send out for conservation because of an object’s size or special needs.
One such project was adopted by Mrs. Georgeann C Corey in memory of George Nassif Corey (T’69). This architectural blueprint of Duke’s East Campus by Horace Trumbauer was created in 1924. At some point in its lifetime it was the recipient of a DIY repair with self adhesive tape and the adhesive caused a lot of staining and damage.Duke University East Campus as designed by Horace Trumbauer (1924) [recto; Image courtesy of NEDCC] 91 linear inches of tape adorned this blueprint before treatment. That is just over 7-1/2 feet of tape! [verso; image courtesy of NEDCC]
This was a perfect item to put up for adoption due to its size, the amount of tape removal needed, and its need to be lined. This blueprint is 52-1/8″ by 40-1/8″. It is too large to fit comfortably in our washing sink, and we have no suction table or karibari board to facilitate the lining. We also wanted a digital image and facsimile reproduction made so that the original could be safely housed while the facsimile could be displayed.
Thanks to the generosity of Mrs. Corey, we were able to send this drawing to the Northeast Document Conservation Center for treatment. You can see from the images below that the treatment was truly transformative. NEDCC conservators removed 91 linear inches of tape, reduced the staining from the adhesive, washed it and repaired the tears and losses, and finally lined it with Japanese tissue. NEDCC digitally captured the drawings and made a 1:1 physical print of the file for us to use as our use copy.Trumbauer blueprint after treatment. [recto; image courtesy of NEDCC] Trumbauer blueprint after treatment. [verso; image courtesy of NEDCC]
This is one of many success stories from our Adopt-a-Book Program. We look forward to sharing others with you in the future.
One can really go down a rabbit hole when it comes to making labels for book enclosures. In addition to considering the layout and typeface, there are a number of materials and printing or gilding techniques that can be used to create one. Stamped leather labels are certainly a nicer option, but require special equipment and are very time consuming to produce.
Paper labels are very quick to make, especially in large quantities, and everyone has the necessary equipment. With a little effort in setup, paper labels can look surprisingly good on a box.
One of the major problems I have had with setting up paper labels digitally is the lack of spacing control between lines or between letters that one has with a hot stamp or handle letters. Common word processing software doesn’t make this type of layout work easy; however, I have recently discovered some simple tricks in Microsoft Word that can be employed to achieve a more pleasing arrangement of text.
When setting up a label in Word, I will often start with a simple text box. Before typing any titling text, I set the dimensions of the text box based on measurements from the spine of the enclosure. I will also set the box to have a compound line (thick and thin) to look more like traditional tooling. There is a lot of literature about choosing typefaces and laying out book titling, so I won’t get into any of that here. Let’s just focus on spacing.
With the text generally arranged and sized to fit, I will start adjusting the spacing between lines, commonly referred to as “leading“. Word seems to default to multiple spacing between lines, so I remove all of that first. With all the text selected, right click and select Paragraph. After setting the line spacing to Single, you can then customize the point spacing after each line to achieve the leading you want.
Next you may need to adjust the spacing between letters, also known as kerning. The example below uses Centaur as the typeface and, on the left, you will see some bigger variation between letter spacing. Compare the “IB” to the “RO” spacing in “LIBRORUM”.
On the right, I have adjusted the letters to have a more uniform appearance. I find this spacing more subtle on a screen, but much more obvious on a printed label for some reason. The kerning is adjusted in a similar way to the leading: with a letter highlighted, right click and select Font. Under the Advanced tab, you can choose Expanded or Condensed spacing and modify it with a number. In this example, I expanded the spacing of the I and B and reduced the spacing for the R.
I find that a little consideration to spacing makes a huge difference in the look of my book titling and labels. Hopefully these simple modifications can come in handy for other folks, too.
A few weeks ago, I wrote about a method for making your own custom cord. I had included an illustration of fiber to rope by Jane Dalrymple-Hollo, which mirrored a diagram from Tom Conroy’s 1987 article. A few days later, Jeff Peachey sent me a much earlier example of that same diagram from an 1842 issue of The Penny Magazine. This was quite serendipitous, as I am currently treating four volumes of that serial from our collection and I had already posted images of one in my post on book edge treatments. The illustrations in this magazine are just fantastic and the whole run is available through Hathi Trust. You can find the 1842 article about a rope and sail-cloth factory here.
Remember a couple weeks ago when I mused that we might stack two folding tables on top of each other to dry twice the amount of books in the same footprint? I can report that it works really well.
We found some additional damp books from the disaster we had a couple weeks ago. Since the tables were still set up I decided to test my hypothesis. It worked really well. As you can see below I made sure there were plenty of fans to circulate the air around the top layer. The books are drying nicely and we can still move around this small space with relative ease.