Blog & Tumblr Archives

This is an archive of all of my original posts on the ConserveThis! Tumblr. ConserveThis! started out as a light-hearted (yet still educational!) blog about my experiences as a library conservator. It also turned out to be a successful outreach tool, as I received numerous questions about conservation – and how to become a conservator – from readers.

I’ve also added new posts here, which weren’t originally on the ConserveThis! Tumblr.

The red velvet vampyre

About a month ago my lab moved temporarily from one campus to another. During the move out we unearthed many forgotten supplies, including some pieces

When good negatives go bad…

Damaged nitrate negativeClose-up of a damaged nitrate negative We found this damaged negative while doing a final cleanup during the last part of our


Bystander: I think the letters you picked are too b-   Bookbinder: ¯_(ツ)_/¯

Tape of low moral fiber

If you ever need some scotch tape or masking tape in my conservation lab, this is where you’ll find it.   Double-sided tape (used for all s

If you love it, don’t laminate it!

Apparently our first university archivist/historian was a big fan of lamination. This just one of a couple hundred volumes containing some of our earl


My week summed up in one picture. Please don’t use gum as a bookmark. Be kind to your library books, and your library’s conservator.

Book Bindings on Jeopardy

While watching tonight’s episode of Jeopardy, I was super disappointed to discover that this category was really about book titles.

We sure have a lot of tools!

This week in the conservation lab, we did a full inventory of all of our tools and equipment. We use a lot of different tools in the lab! At the front

It’s a fact.

Conservatives have alternative facts. Conservators have fungal facts.

Sample boxes

I’ve been making some pint-sized models of various housing possibilities for our collections. This is one that is basically a book tray with a l

Library valentine about tape

conservethis: Roses are red, Violets are blue, If you put tape on your books, I’ll never EVER love you. Roses are red, Violets are blue,&nb

A clean sweep of a herbal

Cleaning in progress, with tools at the ready. Today I’m working on a treatment that is basically the rare book equivalent of cleaning under the

No love for sticky-notes

💔 💔 💔 💔 No love for whoever used these pink heart-shaped sticky notes in one of our library books. They are now firmly

A productive week of bookbinding

The results of a very productive three day bookbinding workshop, making board attachment models with the amazing Karen Hanmer. For more information on

A *really* big box…

So I made a really big box, and I had to stand it on end when gluing the walls together. And while that was happening I started smashing some of my bo

midwestconservator: msulconservationlab: We’ve recently upped our box making game, with a focus on making corrugated clamshell boxes for folio a

The sound of Schmedt

Do you hate leather paring as much as I do? Then you’ll love the Scharffix.  Also, this video really should be subtitled: “Schme

It’s tradition!

I’ve been working on condition reports all week, and this certain song is stuck in my head…because condition rhymes with tradition.

GoPro in the Conservation Lab

Let’s just say I have a GoPro I can strap to my head. What bookbinding or conservator stuff, or conservation treatment techniques do you wa

A library is to know

This from a great little book called “A Library is to Know”, which is a parody of Maurice Sendak’s “A Hole is to Dig


So, our old HEPA filter vacuum broke yesterday, right in the middle of a mold-remediation project I was working on! BUT! I just found out today that t

Rebinding breakdown

I really like this breakdown of the cost for rebinding a book (and more than once, at that!) circa 1906. It’s a lot more expensive now! From thi

Wow, whoever originally backed this 19th century publisher’s binding should’ve really taken a moment to calm down and take a deep breath f

When you can immediately diagnose a book’s “special pain” without even having to open it first. Somebody was overly &

They have the most adorable traditional paper toys here in Myanmar! I miiiiiiiiiiight have gone a little overboard while shopping. 

Don’t look down! This library has metal grating instead of a solid floor. So you can see all the way to the bottom, three stories down! But hey,

Library dog in Mandalay

I was able to visit the famous Ludu Library and Archive, which is located in Mandalay, Myanmar. One of the library staff knew I was going to visiting,

Library preservation demonstration materials in Yangon, Myanmar.

Even in Myanmar, there are minions. But at least these minions are aware of library preservation issues.

That’s uh…that’s a rough week if you ask me.

I can’t make this stuff up, it practically writes itself… in the margins of this book.Seriously, stop writing in library books!

I’m traveling in Asia right now, and managed to find not one but TWO museums in the Narita airport! Check out these origami dinosaurs!

I really ❤️ the cute dinosaur illustration on this book’s spine. One could even call it a…spine-o-saur. :3

The results of a very productive three day bookbinding workshop, making board attachment models with the amazing Karen Hanmer. For more information on

Three green bookbinding books.

Tacketed binding model with some pretty loud paisley printed suede used for the covering.

Making models of various board attachment styles. These are models of a Medieval style binding with packed sewing on double cord supports laced into p

Let’s just say that this book was not found in Mr Royce’s library.

Well *somebody* sure was hungry, weren’t they?

Me IRL (Image from “The Children’s Book on How to Use Books and Libraries” by Moot and Baisden, 1937.)

1936. Book Repairs at the Urbana Free Library  Works Progress Administration Photographic File.  Pictures from the Urbana Daily Co

I love the gilder using his hair to get just enough grease to help pick up the sheets of gold leaf from his book of gold leaf sheets. Edit: I have bee

Pop-up book vampire dentistry

Sometimes being a book conservator means you have to do a little dental work on Dracula’s fangs.  This is a pop-up book that’s going

Or conservation…or bookbinding.

Back in 1977, one of our library staff literally stapled some replacement pages into this book. It got the job done, but the results are not that idea

I spotted this tiger-striped repair on one of our books in our special collections stacks. Looks like a “folk repair”, aka not someth

I just think this binding is the cutest little thing, what with its combination of floral paste paper and marbled paper. I also miiiiiight have said,

Anyone want to take a stab at identifying or dating this German bible? It’s missing the title page and the first 3 signatures of the test block.

This binding has had a rough life. The leather was originally white, as you can see in this corner that used to be protected by a metal corner boss.

(via This is an excellent video that shows the damage a ‘quick and easy’ amateur repair

Stop. Leaving. Sticky notes. In. Library. Books!

💔 💔 💔 💔 No love for whoever used these pink heart-shaped sticky notes in one of our library books. They are now firmly

I’d rather not admit how long it took me to realize that the coffee stain ring on this book’s cover was actually a deliberate part of its