Usually in Preservation, we put things back together by repairing and restoring something that has come apart through age and use. However, in some cases, we also “take things apart.” In the case of a binding where we might want to scan individual pages, we “disbind” or take apart the binding itself to reveal the individual pages. In this case, I am dis-binding a bound Biblical Recorder from 1867 which we will scan, and then re-bind.
One of the students in my LIB100 class brought in an old Bible and asked me to repair it. I figured this might be a nice gesture, so I did. The Bible came from Israel and has wooden covers. Each cover has a small circular place in which water and soil from Israel has been placed inside a glass container. The first step of the repair was a simple matter of stabilizing the text block to secure the loose pages. I then checked for loose pages as I turned through the book itself. When I found a few of these loose pages, I tipped them in. The final step was to glue a thin leather strip to the spine.
We all use things to mark pages in our books: receipts, slips of paper, brochures, tickets, paper clips, and Post-it Notes. Post-it Notes have an adhesive on them which transfers to the surface it is applied to. This adhesive residue, in turn picks up dirt or other foreign particles and cause them to stick to the book. I understand the need to mark a pages or pages in books one might be using as research materials. I don’t want to be harsh or mean, but please remove Post-it Notes from books before you turn them in. It’s better for the books and their future users, and it is a considerate thing to do.
It’s the end of the semester and exams are upon us. During this time of the academic year, students begin to return the books they’ve held onto. Many of these books are damaged: waterlogged, dog-chewed, ripped, with broken joints and ripped spines they are generally hurting. Much of the focus for Preservation must now be placed on the circulating collections and repairing those titles that had a tough fall. Soon, we’ll be repairing joints, replacing spines, tipping in loose pages and replacing damaged end sheets. By the start of Spring Semester, these books will all be back on the shelf ready for use.
Recently, I was asked to repair and recover a small box used for transporting communion materials. I assume this would be used for taking communion to an ill person who couldn’t travel. I removed all the hardware, and recovered the box with book cloth. I then, replaced the handles and latch. It seems to be in reasonably good shape to continue on it’s mission of good will.
I ask you: is this preservation?
I guess so.
On Thursday, October 30th, several members of the ZSR Disaster Committee gathered in Preservation for training. This is important since many times a disaster happens when key personnel are absent or unavailable. In that kind of situation, the more eyes and hands that know what to do, the better. We began by walking through the library to show everyone where we’ve stored caches of disaster supplies, such as boxes, tape, plastic sheeting, butcher paper, etc. Following this, we reviewed packing wet materials. The library materials should ideally be packed ‘spine down’. This protects the books from further damage after getting wet and being stored improperly. Larger books can also be stored with the largest book on the bottom and stacked in a pyramid fashion. After wetting down a group of ‘discards’, we practiced packing the books properly, wrapped in butcher paper, spine down. We also demonstrated scanning the barcodes of each item to record the titles being recovered. This was a useful exercise both for new staff and for review.
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!
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.