Seven preservationists from across North Carolina participated in a Leather Repair Workshop was held in the ZSR Preservation Lab, July 24-25, 2008. The workshop presenter was Jim Hinz, a Book Conservator at the Conservation Center for Art and Historic Artifacts in Philadelphia. The workshop was sponsored by the North Carolina Preservation Consortium, and was attended by preservationists from NC State, UNC-CH Medical Sciences Library, ECU, UNC-G and Duke. During the workshop, we learned to re-attach loose boards, dye, consolidate and pare leather. We also learned to use a leather paring machine and re-back a damaged leather spine. It was a lot of information for two days, but was super useful for my vast array of damaged leather books in Preservation!
During July 2008...
I began today by finishing my re-shelving project. Along the way, I found a 1942 edition of Huckleberry Finn with Mark Twain’s signature in the front, as well as a 1926 Winnie-the-Pooh edition signed by A. A. Milne and the original illustrator, E. H. Shepard. What fun!
Following this effort, I printed drafts of two new brochures the library distributes to students and faculty. These drafts will make their way under the eyes of each Team Leader as we try to iron out all the wrinkles. Next week, I have a 2-day leather book repair workshop and so I also did a little cleaning and straightening of my work space. I also made an unsuccessful effort to convert video footage files I took of myself performing various book repair techniques. I’ll probably work on this project again next week when I can get some help.
I met with my Team Leader to go over my work and discuss future projects. As part of this discussion, I scanned an image from our collection and submitted it as a potential cover image to RBM Journal. I also asked my student assistant to pick up a gallon of ethyl alcohol from the Chemistry Department. I transferred this alcohol to plastic containers that I store in a fire-proof cabinet. I use this alcohol for making a leather consolidant called Klucel-G. At the end of the day, I finished up the week with a few repairs before I made my way into the weekend.
After riding my bicycle to work, I was sitting in my office (in shorts and flip-flops). I’d planned on changing into my work clothes after I cooled off. Then, in walks my supervisor and the library director with a visitor-yikes! My attire wasn’t an issue at all (except to me) and the four of us walked off into the library to look at a newly named reading room that I’d helped with. This encounter went swimmingly well and actually was a highlight of my day.
Later, I replaced directional signs outside the library. Our main entrance is under construction this summer, so I had some signs made to get patrons in the building more efficiently. Later, I re-ordered my rare books because I got a book truck of these books that needed repair. I needed to place them in call number order on my shelves and incorporate them into the ones I already had shelved.
In the afternoon, we had a library wide staff meeting where we discussed a newly organized library team and the development of faculty status for librarians.
On Wednesday, July 16, Vicki Johnson and I attended a Solinet workshop on caring for scrapbooks. The workshop was presented by Jessica Leming of Solinet Preservation Services. This workshop covered a seldom addressed topic-the deterioration of older scrapbook collections. These scrapbooks take a variety of shapes and forms- ledgers, re-purposed sales catalogs, and bound materials of all kinds. At one time, it was apparently popular to take any bound item and paste your mementos inside as if all the pages were blank.
Jessica covered the general areas of assessment (condition), prevention treatments, housing(what to put a scrapbook in to protect it) and policies.
One of the main issues with preservation of historic scrapbooks is the use of “ground wood pulp paper”-a paper made from unbuffered wood pulp that is very acidic. This kind of paper was used heavily form around 1850-1900 to meet growing demands. Now, this paper is becoming brittle and causing problems. Other issues seen in historic scrapbooks is fading of photographs, staining from glues, binding failure de-lamination, brittle/yellowed cellophane tape, and faded inks.
Solutions for scrapbook preservation inclusde:
- Interleaving of acid-free cotton rag paper-the step insulates each page from the ther and can prevent staining and bleed through.
- Enclosures- drop spine or archival boxes can house an entire scrapbook to prevent further deterioration and light damage.
- stabilization can be attained by mending or storage
- Reformatting- making a preservation facsimile or a preservation microfilm copy will protect the original item while allowing access to the content.
- Digitization- another way to allow access to the information of an item while protecting the actual item from handling damage.
- Disbinding/Preservation- the scrapbook can actually be restored if the money and preservation skills are present
This workshop helped me to be aware of a growing area of preservation needs and the appropriate methods of protecting historic scrapbooks.
The start of a new week brings new stuff to do. Yesterday, I actually began repairing some books that had been sitting for some time. My responsibilities often mean that my primary job-preservation-gets left until the dust settles. I’m currently working on re-designing our library brochures, normally, not a huge job. This year, however, we have a new logo and a 90 page Identity Standards booklet with guidelines on logo use and placement. As a result, I have to look at almost every detail, not just the text. So, it was fun to perform a few repairs yesterday afternoon.
Today, I’ll be working on exhibits-another one of my areas of responsibility. Our library has emptied out a large room that held our Periodicals and converted it into a study area. This room has 10 exhibit cases, most of which were hidden behind large newspaper and magazine cabinets. With these cabinets removed, I’ll need to put ‘something’ in these now revealed exhibit cases. I hope to use some exhibits I’ve saved from the past so I’ll be able to do this quickly. And hopefully, this afternoon I’ll repair a few more books!
Life in the library is different every day and that makes this a great job.
On July 11-12, Phoebe Kao, a librarian from an international school in Tianjin, China visited ZSR Preservation for two days of book repair training. Phoebe came to ZSR via the NCPC web site and over several months, we were able to arrive at a good time for her to come. During her two days in Preservation, Phoebe made two books (western case bound book and an eastern stab binding), replaced spines, tipped in pages, repaired paper tears with heat-set tissue and also tackled a range of other odd repairs. Phoebe and I also spent a good amount of time discussing decision-making before beginning repairs. As a repair is only as good as the materials and technique used, this was time well spent. Another area we discussed was materials and supplies and what suppliers were best for various items. We spent a good deal of time on repairing paperbacks, since much of Phoebe’s collection is paper bound.
Phoebe actually went through the steps of cutting large sheets of paper, folding them into 3 sheet signatures, sewing them with linen thread, attaching end sheets, making a case, and attaching the text block to the case to create a book. Making a book from “scratch” is always a special experience and I felt Phoebe was very happy with her book. This was a great experience from my viewpoint because I felt I was giving information and knowledge directly to a person who needed it badly. Service is a key point in the profession of librarianship and I felt this was a two day service venture that was profitable for both Phoebe and myself.
On June 6, 2008, I taught an Intermediate Book Repair workshop for the North Carolina Preservation Consortium at Wake Forest. There were nine people from various schools across the state: ECU, WFU Professional Center Library, Catawba College and Appalachian State, Warren Wilson College and Campbell University. During the day, I covered a variety of repairs: spine replacement, tipping in pages, end sheet replacement, 4-flap enclosures, paper tears and tightening hinges. The great thing about these workshops is the opportunity to learn from each other and share our collective knowledge. There’s more than one way of doing many of these repairs, so I enjoyed getting ideas from the participants. The NCPC workshops have a basic, intermediate and advanced workshop structure. The basic workshops are the most popular and cover the most ground. The intermediate workshop adds more complicated repairs to the mix. We’ve only offered the advanced workshop one time. This is a great way to share your knowledge and experience and make contact with others doing similar work across North Carolina. I always have a good feeling after doing these workshops.