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Duke University Libraries Preservation
Updated: 12 min 46 sec ago

Digital Fills to the Rescue!

Thu, 2017-10-12 14:34
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By Rachel Pennimen, Senior Conservation Technician

This copy of Hilda Vaughan’s ‘A Thing of Nought’ was sent to the conservation lab to have a box made to protect the fragile dust jacket and cover. The illustration and lettering printed directly on the front board is visible through a transparent, blue tinted plastic dust jacket that is itself printed with the title and author’s name.

Unfortunately the poor quality plastic of the dust jacket has not aged well. Small pieces of the plastic dust jacket were in danger of flaking off with every movement and could hardly be handled safely. In order to keep the dust jacket on the book but still allow for handling of the item, Curator Andy Armacost had the idea of using a dust jacket protector similar to the type sometimes used on our general collections items. This traditional style of dust jacket cover has a Mylar front and a paper backing that wrap around the dust jacket to protect it from wear.

Slim-Fold Book Jacket Covers, University Products

 

This would have the benefit of completely surrounding the plastic dust jacket and preserving all of its parts while allowing it to stay in place on the book and be handled. The trouble is that the paper backing on this kind of product would obscure what was printed directly on the book’s cover. So I attempted to create my own dust jacket cover where the paper backing was printed with a copy of the original boards.

I tried black and white photocopies of the cover on white paper and colored papers. They gave a similar idea of the original cover design, but I was really hoping for something more detailed and accurate.

Photocopy on white paper, photocopy on cream paper, and original cover

I tried again using our photodocumentation setup to take a color photograph of the cover but when I printed out the image the color didn’t match the original at all.

Printed color photograph and original cover

Senior Conservator Erin Hammeke had previously used a tool developed by Victoria Binder to make a color accurate printed reproduction for use in an exhibit so I decided to look into that. Victoria’s article in Topics in Photographic Preservation entitled ‘Digital Fills for Photographs with Glossy Surfaces’ discusses using the Action feature in Photoshop to automatically make variations on settings like midtone color, exposure, and saturation in an easily printable contact sheet. I wasn’t looking to create a fill for a photograph, but color matching a printed image to an original was exactly what I needed. By using Victoria’s Actions Set I could easily print contact sheets with up to 15 variations on a single page, and pick the one that looked closest to the original without wasting reams of paper.

I adjusted my image in Photoshop according to the best results from the contact sheets. The printed photograph gave all the detail of the appearance of the original board decoration and the adjustments made the color an almost perfect match when printed.

Printed photograph before color correction, after color correction, and original cover

The original plastic dust jacket was placed over the printed reproduction of the book cover and a piece of Mylar was folded around both. When the jacket assembly is put on the book the visual effect is very similar to the original.

Interior of the jacket assembly around original cover

Because the cover isn’t attached in any way to the book, a researcher can simply unfold the jacket assembly and view the original book cover decoration beneath.

Final dust jacket assembly next to original cover

I’m so happy with how this project turned out. The original plastic dust jacket is much easier to handle safely, the original appearance of the item is retained, and all of the parts can still be kept together.

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Quick Pic: Losing Information

Fri, 2017-10-06 14:00

By Erin Hammeke

We have two incunabula in the lab that illustrate the effects of unsympathetic rebinding, a practice that has played an unfortunate role in the history of repair and maintenance of bookbindings. Both of these texts were printed in the early days of printing, in the year 1501.

(Above) Grãmatica Nocolai Perotti… was printed in Cologne and still sports an early wooden board binding with blind tooled, tawed-skin covering and brass clasp. This binding may have been its original binding or was likely made not too long after the text’s printing. The insides of the wooden boards display manuscript waste fragments and an untrimmed text. Despite a large loss to a portion of the textblock, the binding remains functional and protected by an enclosure and careful handling.

(Above) Baptistae Mantuani poetae oratorisq[ue]… printed in Strasbourg in the same year, faced a very different fate and was rebound in the 20th century in a buckram-covered case binding with modern endpapers. The pages appear to have been pressed very flat, removing all type impression; the textblock has been oversewn; and the pages have been trimmed so much that marginalia has been cut.

Examples like these remind us of the value of the original and what information may be lost when we make things “new and improved.”

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Revisiting a Big Challenge

Fri, 2017-09-29 20:34

The Rubenstein Library recently acquired another large Torah scroll. Measuring 40″ in length, these scrolls can be quite heavy and difficult to move safely. The support on which the scroll arrived was minimal and inventive.

The scroll was wrapped in layers of cotton muslin, with cotton twill tape laced through honeycomb board to secure it. Honeycomb board is light enough for two people to easily lift, but rigid enough that it doesn’t bow or cause the scroll to shift. At the time of acquisition, we discussed keeping this support. After considering the necessary handling and pathway through the building to serve the scroll in the reading room, however, it was decided that a full enclosure would offer more protection.

Longtime readers may remember when Beth boxed a similar scroll a few years ago, and more recently you might have seen Tedd’s series on Extreme Enclosures. Each of these large enclosures employs double layers of corrugated board, covered in buckram, to cut down on weight while remaining durable enough for long term handling. Beth’s Torah enclosure is nearing its seventh birthday, so I thought this would be a good opportunity to see how it has aged. Can the double-wall corrugated board really stand up to the abuse of regular handling and re-shelving?

It turns out the box (pictured above without its telescoping lid) is still in very good shape. Despite many trips to the reading room and all the activity of the Rubenstein Renovation, the enclosure shows no wear or distortion from the weight of the contents. Research Services staff report that the lighter weight makes re-shelving (with two people) quite easy and the drop-wall design allows for convenient removal of the heavy scroll from the box.

Considering the success of the first box, I decided to adopt the popular idiom of “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” and duplicated the design for the recently acquired Torah.

Library conservators are often called upon to creatively engineer solutions to unique preservation problems. With ever growing and diversifying collections, it sometimes feels like all our attention is pulled toward the next object coming through the door. It’s nice to have the opportunity to go back and critically review some of those solutions, but nicer still to see that, years later, they are still working as they should.

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Know a Great Colleague? Nominate them!

Fri, 2017-09-22 14:30

It’s library award season! Time to nominate our hard-working colleagues to thank them for a job well done. The American Library Association has several awards that represent all facets of library work. Here are some that may be of interest to you, but be sure to look at the full list.  The award descriptions below come directly from ALA’s web pages.

Ross Atkinson Lifetime Achievement Award Ross Atkinson

This award honors the legacy of Ross Atkinson, distinguished library leader, author, and scholar, whose extraordinary service to ALCTS and the library community at-large serves as a model for those who follow. The award is given to recognize the contribution of a library leader through demonstrated exceptional service to ALCTS and its areas of interest (acquisitions, cataloging and metadata, collection management, continuing resources, and preservation and reformatting).

For more information and application guidelines visit:
http://www.ala.org/alcts/awards/profrecognition/atkinsonlife

 

Hugh C. Atkinson Memorial Award Hugh Atkinson

This award honors the life and accomplishments of Hugh C. Atkinson by soliciting nominations and recognizing the outstanding accomplishments of an academic librarian who has worked in the areas of library automation or library management and has made contributions (including risk taking) toward the improvement of library services or to library development or research.

For more information and application guidelines visit:
http://www.ala.org/acrl/awards/achievementawards/atkinsonmemorial

 

Paul Banks and Carolyn Harris Preservation Award Paul Banks

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.

For more information and application guidelines visit:
http://www.ala.org/alcts/awards/profrecognition/banksharris

Editor’s note: Why are there no pictures of Carolyn Harris online? If someone knows of one, let me know and I will add it here.

 

 

George Cunha and Susan Swartzburg Award George Cunha

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.

For more information and application guidelines visit:
http://www.ala.org/alcts/awards/profrecognition/lbicunhaswartz

Editor’s note: No Susan Swartzburg image online? I’m sensing a trend here. We need to better document the women in our field.

Esther J. Piercy Award

The Esther J. Piercy Award was established by the Resources and Technical Services Division of the American Library Association in 1968 in memory of Esther J. Piercy, editor of Journal of Cataloging and Classification from 1950 to 1956 and of Library Resources & Technical Services from 1957 to 1967. This award is given to recognize the contribution to those areas of librarianship included in library collections and technical services by a librarian with not more than 10 years of professional experience who has shown outstanding promise for continuing contribution and leadership.

For more information and application guidelines visit:
http://www.ala.org/alcts/awards/profrecognition/estherjpiercy

Editor’s note: Seriously. We have lost a big chunk of history…or herstory.

Jan Merrill-Oldham Professional Development Grant Jan Merrill-Oldham

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. 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.

For more information and application guidelines visit:
http://www.ala.org/alcts/awards/grants/jmogrant

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Hurricanes Harvey and Irma Response Information

Wed, 2017-09-13 20:40

We have posted about hurricane awareness and disaster response before. With two major hurricanes hitting the United States so far this season, it is time to round up some information for those hit by these and other storms.

Help for Cultural Institutions

The National Heritage Responders (NHR) – formerly the American Institute for Conservation – Collections Emergency Response Team (AIC-CERT) – responds to the needs of cultural institutions during emergencies and disasters through coordinated efforts with first responders, state agencies, vendors and the public. Volunteers can provide advice and referrals by phone at 202.661.8068. Requests for onsite assistance will be forwarded by the volunteer to the NHR Coordinator and Emergency Programs Coordinator for response. Less urgent questions can also be answered by emailing info@conservation-us.org.

Cultural institutions in FEMA-designated disaster areas of Texas, Louisiana, Florida, and other impacted states and U.S. territories can apply immediately for NEH Chairman’s Emergency Grants of up to $30,000 to preserve documents, books, photographs, art works, historical objects, sculptures, and structures damaged by the hurricane and subsequent flooding. Applications for emergency grants are available here (Word Document).

If you are ready to start recovery you can use the Emergency Response and Salvage  Wheel ro recover collections. The Wheel is also available in an app on both Android and Apple devices. Many other useful apps are out there to help you find information or organize a response.

Local and state organizations such as state archives, museums, university libraries, etc., will have experts on staff that can help answer collection emergency questions. Many states also have state-wide preservation groups with experts who can help (e.g. the North Carolina Preservation Consortium, LYRASIS, Texas Library Association).

September is National Preparedness Month. Even if your institution was not affected by recent storms, now is a good time to review your current disaster plans and training.  The Alliance for Response links cultural heritage and emergency response representatives. There may already be a local AFR network near you or you could consider forming one.

https://www.usa.gov/hurricane-irma Recovery Guidelines for Collections and Personal Items Other useful information
 If you know of other useful resources, please leave them in the comments.

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Rubenstein Materials on Display at the Nasher

Fri, 2017-09-01 19:45

Today I traveled over to the Nasher Museum of Art to install an item from the Rubenstein Library for the upcoming Portrait of Venice exhibit. A hand-colored map of Venice from Georg Braun‘s 1572 edition of Civitates Orbis Terrarum (below) will be on display alongside the mural-sized woodblock print by Jacopo de’ Barbari.

Map of Venice from Civitates Orbis Terrarum.

The Nasher exhibit runs from September 7th until the end of this year. If you did not have a chance to see the Barbari print during the Glory of Venice show at NCMA, this is another good opportunity. The sheer size and detail of the piece is just incredible. The exhibit will also feature interactive multi-media displays produced through multi-disciplinary and collaborative research at the Wired! Lab at Duke.

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Quick Pic: Total Eclipse

Mon, 2017-08-21 20:19

We couldn’t let this moment go by without participating. We put all our conservation skills to work making DIY viewers at the last minute.

Krispy Kreme eclipse doughnutsThe day started with Krispy Kreme eclipse doughnuts. Eclipse Party!The eclipse would hit its best here around 2:44pm. conservation dept., eclipseTedd and Beth with their DIY viewers. Tedd wins for elegance, a well made tube-style viewer. Beth wins for best basic design (a pin hole in a piece of blue/white board). Tedd's DIY eclipse viewerTedd’s viewer was beautifully designed. Beth's DIY viewerThe pinhole worked pretty well, too. Beth's DIY viewerThe view was confirmed by Tedd’s viewer as well as through special glasses. The eclipse is over.

The best part was being surrounded by people gathering in peace in the name of science, and watching an amazing celestial event. Everyone was sharing viewers and glasses, talking with strangers, having fun, learning things, sharing a moment. A brief glimpse of the best of humanity.

 

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Quck Pic: An Army of Me

Wed, 2017-08-16 14:02

Now that the clones have matured and finished their training, my productivity in the lab has tripled!

This photo was not digitally manipulated.(Click image to enlarge.)

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FY 2017 By The Numbers

Fri, 2017-08-11 19:45

It’s the end of the fiscal year and time to write reports. We had a very productive year. The only metric we track that didn’t increase this year was mold removal. It’s difficult to be sad about that.

FY2017 Statistics

1,625 book repairs (up 90% due to a very large acquisition project)
1,735 pamphlets bound (up 40%)
11,007 flat paper repairs (up 390% due to a very large digitization project)
7,018 protective enclosures (up 23%)
1,333 disaster recovery (down 56%)
22 exhibit mounts created (up 47%)
135 hours of time in support of exhibits (includes meetings, treatment, installation, etc.)
339.25 hours in support of digital projects (includes meetings, treatment, evaluation, etc.)

66% of total work was for Special Collections
34% of total work was for Circulating Collections

82% of work was Level 1 [less than 15 minutes to complete]*
17% of  work was Level 2 [15 minutes – 2 hours to complete]
1% of  work was Level 3 [more than 2 hours to complete]

Looking at a graph of the past few years of production you can see the impact that digital projects have had on our work (mostly working on archival collections, aka “flat paper repairs”). This trend is likely to continue.

FY cumulative totals*This number is skewed from past years due some very large projects that needed a lot of minor repairs.

Not Everything Is A Statistic
  • We gave tours to 121 people last year.
  • We created a new Sewn-Board Workflow for fine-press bindings in our circulating collections.
  • We had a wonderful pre-program volunteer who worked with us for almost a year to learn more about library conservation and treatment.
  • We worked with library colleagues to set up the new multi-spectral imaging equipment; and worked with campus resources to CT-scan some objects in the History of Medicine Collection.
  • We hosted a “preservation of digitally printed materials” workshop taught by Daniel Burge, Senior Research Scientist at IPI.
  • We helped to research and procure two new freezers for disaster recovery.
  • Occasionally we stopped to do some fun activities and learn new things.

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There Will Be Rusty Nails

Fri, 2017-08-04 19:16

Conservation is often asked to take archival documents out of frames. This process can be tricky due to the myriad ways framers put things together. It can be a bit like Forest Gump’s box of chocolates…you never know what you are going to get. As you take the frame apart layer by layer, you hope that nothing is stuck to the glass or adhered to acidic cardboard. A lot of times you don’t get that lucky. The thing is, you never know until the very end…

 

As I am pulling rusty fasteners from these frames I am reminded that everyone working in the lab really should have their tetanus shot up to date. In addition, you really shouldn’t work with rusty nails and framer’s points without protecting your hands. Don’t be like me.* I’ve asked Rachel to put cut-resistant  Kevlar (R) gloves on our next supply order.

*Yes, I have a broken finger. Even so, conservation work must go on.

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All Done

Mon, 2017-07-31 18:16

When I shared an image of a tape-laden document last month, I was still in the process of treatment. That treatment wrapped up a few weeks ago and here are the final results:

While the results are not that aesthetically pleasing, the document is now stable. All the oxidized tape is off and the staining has been significantly reduced. I knew there were several significant losses going in, but I did not realize  just how much of the center fold was gone until all of the tape was removed. Rather than attempting to infill the areas of loss with shaped pieces of toned Japanese paper, the entire sheet was encapsulated in clear polyester.  This reduced the overall treatment time, while still allowing the item to be used and handled safely.

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The tape saga continues…

Fri, 2017-07-07 18:57

Last month I posted a picture of a tape-laden item from the NC Mutual Life Insurance Company Archives. Progress on this collection is slow and steady, but I thought it would be fun to share a during treatment photo of tape removal and stain reduction.

Tape Removal (During Treatment)

Pressure sensitive tape had been applied over this horizontal tear. Above the tear, the tape carrier has been removed. The paper below the tear has been treated with solvent and washed to remove the remaining adhesive and staining. Treatment has greatly improved the text legibility and will prevent further darkening of the paper support. Next, thin Japanese paper mends will be applied to rejoin the pieces.

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