Three different aesthetic approaches in circulating conservation treatment..

Three different approaches to general collections conservation treatment (from L-R):

  • Reusing the original boards and spine, with the spine and boards rejoined together using new bookcloth

  •  A brand new case made with all new decorative elements, and no reuse of any materials from the original case, with some artistic liberties taken compared to the original binding design, which was a red quarter leather binding with marbled paper sides 

  • A brand new case made, but reusing the decorative elements of the original cover and as well as using new bookcloth that matched the original color scheme

For all of these books, the covers had separated entirely from their bindings, and there was significant damage to the original covers that prevented me from just reattaching the cover in one piece. I removed the original spine linings, then added new linings of tissue, cambric (a type of fabric), and paper before I recased them.

This post was originally published on the ConserveThis! Tumblr, on May 21, 2018.

A real find, hidden under an ugly binding…

It’s not everyday that I get a general collections book that’s older than the U.S.A. come across my desk. This one was in a tacky modern binding, both ugly and completely unsympathetic to the original binding structure it probably once had. When I opened it up, though, I quickly realized this was not in the same category as the other 19th and 20th century books I’d been evaluating on the same cart of damaged general collections books. Inside, the paper of the textblock is beautifully flexible, white, and has the delightful “rattle” of old paper. 

While evaluating it for treatment, I noticed that it had some repairs done, specifically one of the pages had been replaced by a photocopy! It clearly was done in a thoughtful way, because the paper they used was very nice handmade paper, of almost the exact same weight and texture as the original paper. However, the black and white speckles of the photocopier kind of ruin the illusion. 

Most fortunate of all, though, is the complete lack of tape! There are many paper repairs throughout, but they were all done with paper and paste, which we could easily re-do in the lab if needed.

Introducciones latinas, contrapuesto el romance al latin, para que con facilidad puedan aprender todos, y principalmente las religiosas, y otras mugeres dedicadas á Dios, que para este fin mando hacer S.A. la reyna catolica Doña Isabel al maestro Antonio de Nebrija.  
 by Antonio de Nebrija. Madrid, Publicalas a su cost B. Ulloa, 1773

This post was originally published on the ConserveThis! Tumblr, on June 27, 2018.

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 of red velvet book cloth. Given that it’s probably not very “archival”, I was a little baffled as to why we had it in the lab in the first place.

Regardless it somehow made the move and reappeared in the new lab.

What happened next, well…let’s just say I found an appropriate use for it.

(Just to soothe the worriers out there…this is a general collections book from our circulating collection…not a special collections book! I don’t condone using red velvet for rebacks on rare books…it’s probably not acid free and also it picks up every little bit of dust nearby.)

Some scenes from the move of our archives and special collections…

Some scenes from the move of our archives and special collections: empty shelves contrasted with full book trays on their way to offsite storage.

My library will be undergoing a massive renovation early this coming year, and I am the one managing the logistics involved in moving our collections to offsite storage and other points beyond. It has involved a lot of math, and also a willingness to embrace a great deal of chaos. Neither of those things were my strengths when I started this project, but I get better at them every day.

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 sorts of conservation housings) is in the “Tape Tape” drawer.

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 earliest university records and history that were meticulously laminated.

I cannot accurately describe how aghast I must have looked while examining these.

My coworker showed them to me today for the first time. My response was, “Well, at least while I’m crying the lamination will protect all the documents from my tears…”




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.