This week the Conservation Services Department was joined by our first ever HBCU Library Alliance Summer intern, Phebe Pankey! Duke is one of five library conservation labs participating in this program to host an eight-week internship in preservation and conservation this summer.
Phebe is a junior at Winston Salem State University and has been involved in libraries most of her life through volunteering and community activities. She is excited to learn more about conservation and this internship is a way to continue developing and expanding her library skills.
Phebe has jumped right into the lab workflows, learning to construct some of the quicker enclosures like CoLibri sleeves and 4-flap boxes. She has also been gaining experience with basic paper treatments, like humidification and flattening.Phebe works with Conservation Specialist Rachel Penniman on humidification of paper.
At the conclusion of the eight weeks, interns are expected to take some of the skills they have learned back to their home institution to implement a library preservation project, building on the success of their summer experiences with an opportunity to perform meaningful work preserving significant HBCU library collections at their institution.
These internships would not have been possible without the help of the Samuel H. Kress Foundation, the University of Delaware College of Arts and Science, the Department of Art Conservation at the University of Delaware, and the Winterthur Museum, Garden, and Library (DE). Thanks also to Debbie Hess Norris and Melissa Tedone at the University of Delaware.
We will continue sharing more about this internship as it progresses, but for now: Welcome to Duke, Phebe!
Duke Today has a new story out about the collaborative work that staff from Conservation, the Rubenstein Library History of Medicine Collection, and the Shared Materials Instrumentation Lab are doing to house, scan, and eventually 3-D print our ivory manikins. Check out the story here. And watch this very cool video of the process.
We had some torrential rain in Durham last night and early this morning staff at Lilly Library on East Campus reported water on the floor in the basement level. Facilities and Conservation Services quickly sprang into action to assess and respond to the needs of the affected collections.
Luckily no books were affected. Only some VHS tape cases and paperwork on a desk got wet, so we were able to set them out on tables with box fans and oscillating fans to dry.
A crew from AfterDisaster also quickly arrived and began removing water from the carpets, opening the bases of walls to allow the sheetrock to dry, and setting up dehumidifiers. One of the dangers to book and paper collections after flooding is elevated relative humidity (RH) for long periods of time. This can promote mold growth, so their efforts will ensure that the RH returns to normal levels quickly.
This is the second basement water event we have had in as many months, but in both cases we followed our disaster plan and our collections came through relatively unscathed. It’s great to work with such a great team!
Today we hosted a delightful group of grad students from a class that Liz Milewicz, Head of Digital Scholarship Services, is working with. They declared Conservation to be “The Best Tour Ever.” We kind of agree. Here we are looking at Kenneth Arrow’s Nobel Prize medal. We recently had the preparators from the Nasher Museum here to fit the Nobel medal for a custom display mount. We know this medal will get a lot of use so we are having a special display mount made for it. The Nobel Prize is something almost everyone has heard about but rarely do you get a chance to see one up close. It’s a special object to have in the lab for show-and-tell.
It’s Preservation Week! Each day we are showing examples of how the conservation department supports the library and its mission. We’ve seen Mary getting items back into circulation, Beth in an important meeting, Rachel showing off a Nobel prize, and Erin undoing some worm’s evil work. In our final post for the week, we will talk about how Conservation supports training and the digitization of collections .Undergraduate student Helen Lee applies heat-activated repair material to mend some manuscripts.
Collection materials are constantly being imaged over at the Digital Production Center to provide greater access to scholars around the world. All those materials undergo careful review by our staff before going under the camera, and some items need stabilizing repairs in order to be handled and imaged safely. The sheer quantity of requested material can easily overwhelm our full-time staff, so sometimes our part-time student employees can help with the quicker repairs. Helen Lee (pictured above) has been working in the lab for the past three years and has been trained in several kinds of paper repairs ideal for digitization prep. Today, she is using strips of pre-coated Japanese paper, which we make in the lab, to mend tears on archival material. She uses a small heated tacking iron through a barrier of silicone-coated paper to apply the repair strips.
Helen is graduating this semester and we are so sad to see her go! But it is rewarding to see students head off on new adventures and hopefully some of the preservation training she received here will come in handy along the way.
Happy Preservation Week!
It’s Preservation Week! Each day this week we are telling a short story about how the conservation department supports the library and its mission. We’ve seen Mary repairing circulating collection materials, Beth representing in the board rooms, and Rachel working on custom mounts. Today we will take a peek at something a little more… chewed.
Erin Hammeke, Senior Conservator for Special Collections, is currently working on an 18th century Spanish history of North America from the Rubenstein collection, which was badly eaten by insects at some point before it was acquired by the library.
The insect damage is so extensive in places that the book is very difficult to handle without causing further damage. In order to make this item accessible to researchers, Erin is applying strong, but reversible, mends of Japanese paper to infill each one of the losses. The color of the repair blends nicely with the original paper, so that it does not distract so much from the text.
The conservation treatment of this item will take a considerable amount of time, but it will ensure that a valuable resource is made available to patrons for many years to come. With all the requests for special collections items, either by scholars in the reading room, for our exhibitions, or for digitization, we work closely with our colleagues in Special Collections to prioritize treatment and make treatment decisions.
It’s Preservation Week! This week, we are looking at the daily life of a conservation department and the work we each do in support of the library and its mission. On Monday, Mary was repairing a book with very cool end papers. On Tuesday, Beth was in a meeting (surprise!).
Sometimes you need to bring in expertise when faced with a particular challenge. Rachel is working with Brad Johnson and Patrick Krivacka from the Nasher Museum of Art to build a custom mount for Kenneth Arrow’s Nobel Prize medal. Today was the medal’s first fitting. They also discussed the finish for the stand and came to agreement on the height of the frame.(L to R) Rachel Penniman, Brad Johnson, and Patrick Krivacka discuss the fit of the display stand.
Kenneth Arrow was an economist, professor, and Nobel laureate. Arrow’s career is especially distinguished by his contributions to the theory of social choice, including his book Social Choice and Individual Values, published in 1951, and his contributions to general equilibrium theory. For these achievements, Professor Arrow has been awarded the Johns Bates Clark Medal (1957) and the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economics (1972), which he shared with Professor Sir John Hicks.
We are very excited that we will have a custom-fit stand so that the Nobel medal can be displayed in classes, show and tells, and exhibits. Thanks Patrick and Brad!
It’s Preservation Week! This week, we are looking at the daily life of a conservation department and the work we each do in support of the library and its mission. Yesterday we saw Mary in repairing a book with very cool end papers.
As a department head my job is to make sure we have the budgetary and human resources that we need to do our work, advocate for my staff and department, and make sure our priorities fit into the strategic direction of the library. To that end, I attend a lot of meetings.Technical Services department head meeting.
Duke Libraries has a culture of collaboration, so we do a lot of talking with each other. My standing meetings include departmental and individual staff meetings; Technical Services Department Head meetings; meetings with my supervisor; the monthly all-library staff meeting; the Multi-spectral Imaging team meeting; quarterly division meetings; and meetings with other department heads outside of Technical Services usually over lunch or coffee. Then there are special meetings that are called around projects or initiatives, budget setting, and other administrative duties. Then there are the meetings that happen on the fly at the bus stop, in the hallway, or in the cafe line.
By attending these meetings I am gathering the information I need for the department to be successful, I’m building relationships across the library, and I am also finding out what is happening in other departments that might impact our workflow. I know for some people all these meetings sounds like torture, but I rather enjoy getting together with colleagues to think about our collaborative future. And sometimes you get doughnuts.
It’s Preservation Week! In an effort to raise awareness of the need for preservation of all kinds, every day this week we will highlight one of the many ways our staff support collections at Duke University Libraries. Our first stop is the circulating collection.
This visual album about Barneys New York shows a common problem with modern art books: the flimsy case construction of the binding just doesn’t stand up to the weight of the textblock. While it is down here in the lab, Mary will repair the rear hinge of the book, rejoining the text to the binding and allowing it to function again for many more circulations.
The publisher of this item really went all out with the endpapers and “chameleon” metallic edge treatment!
The post Preservation Week: Maintaining the Circulating Collection appeared first on Preservation Underground.
Conservator Erin Hammeke has been working with History of Medicine Curator, Rachel Ingold and SMIF Research and Development Engineer, Justin Gladman to facilitate the scanning of our 22 ivory manikins using a High Resolution X-ray Computed Tomography Scanner (Micro CT scanner). These high resolution 3-D scans allow us to see internal components of the manikins, thoroughly document them and their component parts, and also to create 3D printed models to allow for unfettered access and handling of surrogate manikins by patrons. So far, we have imaged over half of the collection of 22 manikins to date over 7 imaging sessions.
Conservation’s support for this project has been a team effort. First we researched the safety of the process for ivory and component parts. Then we thought through the logistics of ensuring their physical safety and security during imaging. Over the past year, Conservation Specialist, Rachel Penniman has been carefully boxing each of the manikins in terrific custom padded artifact boxes (see Quick Pic: Boxing Near-Naked Ladies) to assist with their safe transport to the SMIF facility on campus. After transport to SMIF, Erin unpacks the manikins and removes their parts before securely wrapping them in low density material to support the manikin during the 20-30 minute scan. Thanks to Beth for sewing custom foam supports for this project!
Smaller, removable internal organs are imaged in separate scans to enable an adjustment to the scanning resolution and isolation of the component parts in the digital scan and 3D print.
This photos shows some of the ways in which Erin strapped and supported a manikin with a loose arm during scanning, as well as still images from the scan that show internal metal fasteners and repairs that are not visible upon external examination.
And here is an example of a 3D print of one of our solid manikins showing fantastic detail.
Keep an eye out for a more in depth Duke News story about the project by science writer Robin Smith, PhD.
A 12th century Latin manuscript was brought down to the lab yesterday and we all had to stop work for a few minutes to ogle the colorful stitching used to piece together some of the leaves.
Parchment can be oddly shaped or become damaged during production, so it was a common medieval practice to mend or patch the leaves with colorful thread. Sometimes you can tell that the stitching was done before the scribe started writing. For example, this column of text just continues around the thread.
The colors of the thread are so intense that I began to wonder if they were original. What pigments or dyes could make such a vibrant yellow/green color? A few years ago, Beth had taken Cheryl Porter’s workshop, Recreating the Medieval Palette, and just happened to have the color swatches they made on hand. You can read some excellent reviews of that workshop here and here.
The buckthorn and cochineal are actually pretty close matches to the colors of the thread in our manuscript. Being closed inside a book would also have protected them from light exposure and potentially fading. If you’d like to see more examples of colorful stitching in medieval books, check out this post from Erik Kwakkel or the post it inspired on Colossal.
Speakers from institutions around the world discussed how they have been using this technology in recent years to support exhibits programs and make informed decisions about safely displaying cultural heritage material. The seminar concluded with demonstrations of several designs of MFT equipment, like the system pictured below.
It was such a delight to talk with other conservators about how they are using technologies like this in their own institutions. While I was able to learn a great deal about the application and some limitations of MFT, many questions remain about how we might successfully implement it here at Duke. In the meantime, the seminar highlighted some research opportunities that we can begin pursuing with technology we already have on hand, like multispectral imaging.
This awesome book came into the lab today. Something about this little chick speaks to how I feel about this week.
I suspect we will all look like that chick on Monday after we implement Daylight Savings Time. Don’t forget to adjust your clocks!
by Erin Hammeke, Senior Conservator for Special Collections
We recently treated and housed a collection of 19th century photo albums documenting travels in China by Charles Davis Jameson. Most of the albums had very degraded leather covers that we treated by consolidating with Klucel G, making Mylar wrappers for some, and simply housing in protective enclosures for others. One accordion album posed a particular challenge with its shaped wooden boards and silk covering. The silk cover was shattering and had become completely detached from the front board. We decided to make a wrapper for the loose front cover and house it in an enclosure with the book.
The back cover, however, was still extant but very tenuously attached.
We wanted to find a quick and simple solution to stabilize the rear covering and decided to use a lightweight Nylon netting, toned with acrylic, and wrapped around the silk covering and wooden board to contain and protect it.
The netting was adhered to a Mylar insert, cut to the size of the front cover with 3M ATG transfer tape. A leaf of archival paper that matched the tone and quality of the album paper was adhered with double-stick tape on top, sandwiching the netting between layers of archival material and protecting the facing photograph from abrasion from the netting.
The netting is stretched over the pillow-shaped wooden board and the cut end of the Nylon is left open at the board hinge. We were very happy with this quick and easy solution.
Good luck Tedd!
It is a bittersweet day in Conservation. Tedd Anderson has decided to leave the lab and we just won’t be the same. Tedd has been with Conservation for six years. He was hired to help with what we called “The Enabling Project.” This was work we did to help prepare the Rubenstein Library for renovation. It required a lot of boxing. So much boxing.
Once that project was over, Tedd continued to make custom enclosures for Rubenstein. He also treated materials from the general collections, and he helped with preparing special collections materials for digitization. In his time here almost 20,000 items crossed his bench. Many of those things needed custom enclosures. Tedd could make a box for just about anything. Cigarette rolling machine? Sure. Suitcase? Yep. A typewriter? No problem. He even made a pretty awesome eclipse viewer to watch last year’s solar eclipse.
Tedd also contributed to this blog. He wrote about the very large boxes he made for our four-volume Audubon set. He also wrote about designing and making enclosures for the very small books in our miniature collection.
We will miss Tedd’s sense of humor, his dedication to all things boxing, and his artistic doodling during staff meetings. So long Tedd. We wish you well and look forward to hearing about your next big adventure.
Duke University Libraries seeks qualified applicants for the position of Conservation Technician in the Verne and Tanya Roberts Conservation Lab. This position is an opportunity to work at a major ARL member library invested in the long-term care of and access to its collections. The successful candidate will demonstrate excellent hand skills, the capacity to learn new skills, customer focus, and creative problem solving. We seek candidates who will thrive in an open, engaging atmosphere that focuses on production as well as continuous learning and sharing of knowledge among staff at all levels.
Major responsibilities include treating materials primarily in the circulating collections; creating custom enclosures for both circulating and special collections; overseeing the workflow of materials from circulation points in the Perkins-Bostock Library and the branch libraries; and training and oversight of student assistants. You can see the full position description and position requirements online.
Duke University Libraries values diversity of thought, perspective, experience, and people, and is actively committed to a culture of inclusion and respect. Review of applications will begin immediately and will continue until the position is filled. An electronic resume, cover letter, and list of references should be submitted at: https://hr.duke.edu/careers/apply. Refer to requisition # 401385532.
Duke University is an Affirmative Action/Equal Opportunity Employer committed to providing employment opportunity without regard to an individual’s age, color, disability, gender, gender expression, gender identity, genetic information, national origin, race, religion, sex, sexual orientation, or veteran status. Duke also makes good faith efforts to recruit, hire, and promote qualified women, minorities, individuals with disabilities, and veterans. For more information on careers at Duke University, visit https://hr.duke.edu/careers.
For more information please visit: http://hbculibraries.org/students.html
HBCU undergraduate students interested in the humanities, arts, and sciences will have the opportunity to learn and practice hands-on library preservation skills during this full-time, eight week internship under the mentorship of professional conservators and library staff at a host site. Successful internship candidates will demonstrate a strong interest in libraries and archives and an attention to detail, as well as interest and academic success in history, the arts, and/or the sciences.
Interns will work on a range of possible projects, including:
- surveying the condition of library collection materials;
- conservation stabilization and treatment of historical documents, such as humidification and flattening, surface cleaning, and mending tears;
- historical research;
- digitization projects;
- environmental monitoring; and/or
- constructing custom storage enclosures for fragile archival materials.
Interns will then use their new expertise to implement a library preservation project designed in collaboration with their mentor and their home institution’s library staff, building on the success of their summer experiences with an opportunity to perform meaningful work preserving significant HBCU library collections at their institution.The five (5) participating host sites are:
- American Philosophical Society Library
The American Philosophical Society Library is a national center for research in the history of the sciences, early American history, and Native American ethnography and linguistics. The Conservation Department provides complete collection care, ranging from preventive care to single-item treatment, for all books, manuscripts, photographs, and works on paper and parchment held by the Library – numbering 350,000 bound volumes , 13 million manuscript pages, and 250,000 images.
- Duke University Libraries, Durham, NC
Duke University Libraries (DUL) is committed to diversity in its patron communities, services, collections, staff and spaces. One of its guiding principles is to build, maintain, and provide access to an international and multilingual collection, representing the broadest possible spectrum of cultures, ideas, and information. Significant collections include the University Archives, the John Hope Franklin Research Center for African and African American History and Culture, the Human Rights Archives, and the Sallie Bingham Center for Women’s History & Culture. The core mission of the Conservation Services Department is to ensure that library materials can be used by patrons both now and in the future.
- The Harry Ransom Center, University of Texas, Austin, TX
The Ransom Center is an internationally renowned humanities research library and museum at The University of Texas at Austin. Its extensive collections provide unique insight into the creative process of writers and artists, deepening our understanding and appreciation of literature, photography, film, art, and the performing arts. The Center’s Preservation and Conservation Division provides a full range of preventive and conservation treatment options for the long-term care of its collections.
- Winterthur Museum, Garden and Library, Wilmington, DE
Winterthur Library collections promote the interdisciplinary study of American material culture, including art, architecture, decorative arts, and everyday life, dating from colonial times into the twentieth century. Its resources include printed books and serials; trade and auction catalogs; manuscripts, diaries, letter books, and family papers of artists, craftspeople, and merchants; design and architectural drawings; historic photographs; printed ephemera; a large collections of modern photographs; and institutional archives. Winterthur’s Library Conservation Lab is located within a larger Conservation Department with additional specialties in paintings, textiles, objects, furniture, works of art on paper, and scientific research and analytics.
- Yale University Library, New Haven, CT
The Gates Conservation Laboratory at the Yale University Library opened in the fall of 2015 and is home to the conservation and exhibitions services program for the Yale Library’s collection of 14 million books, manuscripts, archival documents, photographs and artifacts, held in 16 libraries or collections on campus. The lab is staffed by a team of four conservators, four technicians, and one exhibits program manager, who provide expertise in book, parchment, paper and photograph conservation for both circulating materials and rare, special collections. The collections of the Library, especially those of the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, document much of the human record, from Egyptian papyri to early Civil War photographs, and archives of writers, artists, and musicians of the Harlem Renaissance to those of student organizations on the Yale campus.
The post HBCU Library Alliance Summer 2018 Library Preservation/Conservation Internship Program appeared first on Preservation Underground.
By Rachel Pennimen, Senior Conservation Technician
Recently a researcher notified the Rubenstein Library staff that there was a hat with a pin in an envelope inside the manuscript box containing the James McGowan papers. A hat in an envelope?This box doesn’t look like it would contain a hat
Yes, a hat! Indeed there was a very smashed, Civil War era, silk hat in that box.That is one flat hat
It looked more like roadkill than apparel. I found a photograph of a soldier wearing a similar looking hat in the same collection.This hat doesn’t look nearly as flat
I used a humidification chamber to slowly add moisture to the fabric until it became more flexible. Then I was able to add a little padding at a time to reshape the hat. Once the hat was the correct shape I removed it from the humidification chamber and let it slowly return to ambient humidity with the padding still in place.humidifying Reshaping Humidification chamber
In order to maintain the shape of the hat I made a pillow of non-woven, spunbound polyester fabric that will stay inside of the hat when it returns to storage. The pillow will provide support for the hat and the polyester has a very smooth surface that won’t catch on the fragile silk fibers.This looks more like a hat
I made a custom box to house the hat and created more pillows to provide support and cushion.
Included in the enclosure are a copy of the photograph from the collection and a pocket for the metal pin. A very special thanks to the keen researcher who noticed this item and brought it to our attention.
One of my more recent projects has been working on this gorgeous late 19th century Japanese photograph album.
While I’m still dealing with the album itself, today I’d like to briefly share some steps I’ve taken to stabilize the decorative paper box in which the album was originally purchased and stored. When the album came to the library, it was inside the original enclosure, and both album and enclosure were packed in a regular cardboard box with medical underpads as cushioning material. Unsure of what I was really looking at, I documented the object exactly as it came out of the cardboard box – underpads included!
The underpads do have some merits as packing material, providing both cushioning and a moisture barrier. They are not the best long-term storage materials, though, so we opted to remove them. As you can see, the box was looking a little rough. I removed the photo album and laid out each piece of the enclosure to better see what remained.
The enclosure is essentially a drop-spine box, covered in decorative red and gold paper. Yellow textile pads are included in the interior of the lid and base to protect the lacquer and ivory covers. The head, tail, and fore-edge of the lid have black woven textile straps and bone pins, which originally fastened to small woven textile loops laced through the lower tray walls. As you can see, several parts of the box are missing and most of the joints have broken. The straps are also broken in several places and very weak.
This enclosure is special because it includes a great deal of information about the album’s provenance. Kusakabe Kimbei (1841-1932) is widely known for these souvenir albums, consisting of hand-colored portraiture and scenic views. Bennet (2006) describes Kusakabe’s (1841-1932) businesses at the two Benten-Dori addresses: 36 functioned as a photography studio, while 27 operated as a shop where composite albums of Kusakabe’s prints were sold (p. 135).
We want to ensure that researchers can open and closely examine the enclosure to see the information on the interior label, but it is not necessary for the heavy photo album to remain inside. The decision was made to create a new padded enclosure for the album and stabilize and store the original enclosure separately.
I began by re-assembling all the box pieces in much the same way I might repair the joints of a paper binding. Using the patterns on the decorative paper, I was able to match all the detached pieces. The original decorative paper was lifted away from the boards and strong handmade paper, toned to match, was adhered underneath with wheat starch paste. I stabilized the remains of the textile straps using toned 60/3 linen thread.
Since the enclosure will not contain the heavy album anymore, the decision was made to just reattach and stabilize the extant materials, rather than recreating the lost walls of the tray and edges of the lid with new board. With only two walls on the bottom tray, I decided to construct a small corrugated box to fit inside and act as additional support. The “filler” box is light weight and can easily be removed by a researcher. This set of two boxes will get a final, outer box to protect the textile straps.
A box, within a box, within a box.
Bennett, T. (2006). Old Japanese photographs: Collector’s data guide. London: Quaritch.
Conservation Services is often called upon to create appropriate housing and storage solutions for over-sized textiles in our collections. This very large and currently uncataloged item from the Robert Hill Collection is a recent example.
After some deliberation, the decision was made to store this item rolled on a hollow tube. Our housing method is fairly straightforward: We started with a piece of unbleached cotton muslin, cut larger than the banner in all dimensions, placed on a work surface of assembled tables. The banner was placed in the center. A rigid tube, about 5″ in diameter and wrapped in high quality paper, was placed at one end of the muslin (as pictured above). These tubes are constructed of blue/grey barrier board, with neutral pH adhesive, and have passed the Photographic Activity Test. They are available through several suppliers like Gaylord or University Products. With a person at each end of the tube, we slowly rolled the muslin and banner together, being careful to smooth out any distortion or creases as we went. The bundle was then loosely tied up with twill tape.
If dust was a concern in the storage space, we might also wrap in an additional layer of clear polyester. We will likely add a tyvek label attached to the twill tape (for example) when cataloging is complete. STASHc (Storage Techniques for Art, Science & History Collections) is a great online resource for potential solutions for housing more cumbersome collection materials, and methods similar to ours can be found there.