“Just One Word: Plastics”, Syracuse University Library

Exhibit Title: Just One Word: Plastics
Location: Syracuse University, Bird Library
Exhibition Dates: 09-12-2011 to 01-20-2012
Link to Exhibit Website

I created all of the custom mounts for the objects being displayed, and consulted with the curator to collaboratively design the layout of the exhibit cases. The mounts were constructed from Vivak plastic.

Description of exhibit (from exhibit website):

For more than a century, plastics have transformed our lives – from bathroom to battlefield; from supermarket to spacecraft. Begun as a 19th-century replacement material for billiard balls and piano keys, plastics spurred 20th century developments in industry, transportation, medicine, entertainment, and other aspects of contemporary life. The original objects of Just One Word: Plastics represent a material history of the modern world.

This exhibition features a representative sample of the Plastics Collection at the Syracuse University Libraries and presents an overview of major trends in the development of plastics in everyday life. The exhibit focuses on personal and household objects rather than the use of plastics in industry where they are also widely used. Approximately 250 objects divided into twelve categories will be on view. In addition, a small selection of manuscripts and printed materials will be included.

The Plastics Collection was begun in 2007 as a joint project of the Syracuse University Libraries and the Plastics History & Artifacts Committee of the Plastics Pioneers Association. The Collection expanded dramatically when the National Plastics Center and Museum in Leominster, Massachusetts, closed and transferred its artifacts, books, and manuscripts to Syracuse University’s care in 2008.

Housing Solutions

“Do you have a housing problem? Then this is where you can find a housing solution!”

The Housing Solutions spreadsheet can suggest an available housing (box, envelope, etc) for a collection item, based on the dimensions of the item. It also notes whether the selected housing is available in the current supplies inventory of the institution.

I built Housing Solutions using Google Sheets, with a combination of filter formulas to show results based on user entered data. The filter functions can also accommodate null values in certain columns, where certain user-entered values are optional. So as to prevent it from giving results that were too small or too large for the object being housed, the filter criteria add “tolerance” values to the dimensions entered by the user. For example, it will only gives results for housings that are at least 1/4″ larger than the length, width and height dimensions provided by the user; it will also not provide results for boxes that are more than 2 1/2″ larger in any dimension.

Here is the filter formula used:

IF(AJ2=TRUE, SPLIT(TEXTJOIN(“”,TRUE,UNIQUE(FILTER({TEXT(MEGALIST!$F:$F,“# ?/?”)&” x “,TEXT(MEGALIST!$G:$G,“# ?/?”)&” x “,TEXT(MEGALIST!$H:$H,“# ?/?”)&“|”}, D2=MEGALIST!$A:$A,(E2=MEGALIST!$B:$B)+(ISBLANK(E2)), F2<= MEGALIST!$F:$F, F2+K2+Tolerance!$B$2 >= MEGALIST!$F:$F, G2 <= MEGALIST!$G:$G, G2+K2+Tolerance!$B$2 >= MEGALIST!$G:$G, O2<= MEGALIST!$H:$H, O2+J2+Tolerance!$B$4 >= MEGALIST!$H:$H))),“|”),

SPLIT(TEXTJOIN(“”,TRUE,UNIQUE(FILTER({TEXT(MEGALIST!$F:$F,“# ?/?”)&” x “,TEXT(MEGALIST!$G:$G,“# ?/?”)&” x “,TEXT(MEGALIST!$H:$H,“# ?/?”)&“|”}, D2=MEGALIST!$A:$A,(E2=MEGALIST!$B:$B)+(ISBLANK(E2)), F2+Tolerance!$B$3 <= MEGALIST!$F:$F, F2+K2+Tolerance!$B$2 >= MEGALIST!$F:$F, G2+Tolerance!$B$3 <= MEGALIST!$G:$G, G2+K2+Tolerance!$B$2 >= MEGALIST!$G:$G, O2+Tolerance!$B$5 <= MEGALIST!$H:$H, O2+J2+Tolerance!$B$4 >= MEGALIST!$H:$H))),“|”))),4,0,1,TRUE)), “No products available in that size”)

To provide the line-by-line data validation that generates the drop-down menus in Columns N,O and P, I used a script created by Google user AD:AM to copy the row-specific data validations based on the filter results in other columns within the same row.

Mark McCann also provided a generous amount of help setting up the original filter formula concept for me, which I then refined and modified over time.

The internal version used at ASU Library is slightly different in that the list of supplies queried by the user is dynamically created through an ImportRange function that calls in the data from a centralized list of supplies, known as the “MEGALIST”. The internal ASU Library version also adjusts the results, via different tolerance values, for items larger than 21″, due to the particular storage availability for oversized materials in the ASU Library collections.

I created and shared the first version of this spreadsheet in November 2018.

The most recent version was published on February 22, 2019.

Recase of 5-volume set

Before treatment: spine lost, leather red-rotted on spine and corners.
During treatment: spines cleaned of original paper and textile linings.
During treatment: spines re-lined with new cambric, and boards attached before covering.
During treatment: cloth cut for each book before covering.
After treatment: new cases attached, with new spine labels.


Spine replacement on an early 19th century book

Dances of Death
  • Date: January 1, 2009
  • Conservator: Suzy Morgan
  • Call Number/Collection: Special Collections, Northwestern University Library
  • Author: Hans Holbein
  • Imprint: London, 1803
  • Title: Dances of Death
  • Dimensions (binding): 20.7 H x 16.4 W x 1.8 T (cm)
Before Treatment

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Front, spine view

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Back, spine view

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Front, fore-edge

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Back, fore-edge

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Detached front board

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Detached back board

After Treatment

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Front, spine view

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Back, spine view

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Front, fore-edge

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Back, fore-edge

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Reattached front board

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Reattached back board

Treatment Report


This is a case binding covered with a green bookcloth, with the title stamped in gold on the front board and spine. The textblock is a thick, machine-made pulpy white paper. The text has been printed with black printer’s ink and there is no type impression. There is a binder’s ticket that reads “Fogarty’s, Port Elizabeth” on the back pastedown.


Both boards are detached. The spine leather is missing except for small patch. The spine linings are split. There are 3 pieces of cellophane tape present on each board from a previous repair attempt. The board edges are abraded. The leather is skinned on the corners and in places on the boards.


(See sidebar for more images)

Before Treatment:
Before Treatment
Before Treatment

After Treatment:
Before Treatment
Before Treatment

  • Remove tape from boards.
  • Clean and re-line spine using an overhanging lining.
  • Dry-clean the textblock where necessary.
  • Rehinge on loose pages at front and back.
  • Remove leather from board edges and remake spine with a double-layer of moriki tissue.
  • Recase using overhanging spine lining.
  • Mask gap at inner hinges using a strip of thin tissue.
  1. The adhesive tape was removed from both boards using a combination of mechanical and solvent-assisted removal using ethanol.
  2. The spine was cleaned using a poultice of methyl cellulose.
  3. The loose front flyleaf and first 5 pages were reattached to the textblock with thin tissue hinges applied with wheat-starch paste.
  4. Two overhanging spine linings were adhered with wheat-starch paste.
  5. The decaying leather was removed mechanically from the spine-edge of both boards.
  6. The outermost spine lining was adhered ontop of the boards to reattach them to the textblock.
  7. A double-thickness of toned Moriki tissue was then used to replace the original spine leather. The turn-in tabs were slipped under the original paste-down.
  8. The inner tissue spine lining was then pasted onto the inside of the boards and under the edge of the original paste-downs, to hide the exposed board at the hinge. The paste-downs were then glued back down with wheat starch paste.
  9. The corners were built up with 20pt board and toned moriki tissue applied with a combination of PVA and wheat starch paste.
  10. The moriki tissue on the spine and corners was coated with a mixture of Klucel G and SC-6000 consolidant, then burnished with a bone folder.
  11. A plastic Colibri cover was placed on the book to protect the boards from further abrasion.

19th century broadside treatment

Ira Alrdidge theater broadsides
    • Date: January 27, 2009
    • Owner/Custodian: Northwestern University Library Special Collections
    • Title/Subject/Description (.01): Ira Aldridge theater broadside
    • Creator: W. Reynolds (9 Exeter Street, London)
    • Date of production: London
    • Place of production: 1833
  • Conservator: Suzy Morgan

Before Treatment

Front (Left Half): Ambient Light

Front (Left Half): Raking Light

Back (Left Half): Ambient Light

Back (Left Half): Raking Light

Front, Left Half, Top Left corner

Front, Left Half, Top Right corner

Front (Right Half): Ambient Light

Front (Right Half): Raking Light

Front, Right Half, Top Left corner

Front, Right Half, Top Right corner

After Treatment

Front (Left Half): Ambient Light

Front (Left Half): Raking Light

Back (Left Half): Ambient Light

Back (Left Half): Raking Light

Front (Left Half) Top Left Corner

Front (Left Half), Top Right Corner

Front (Right Half): Ambient Light

Front (RIght Half): Raking Light

Back (Right Half): Ambient Light

Back (Right Half): Raking Light

Front (Right Half), Top Left Corner

Front (Right Half), Top Right Corner
Treatment Report

Dimensions (Primary Support):

  • (Left/Top Half)
    English: 8.4 in W x 13.3 in H
    Metric: 21.4 cm W x 33.9 cm H
    (Right/Bottom Half)
    English: 8.3 in W x 13.4 in H
    Metric: 21.1 cm W x 34 cm H

This is a theater broadside that was created by a relief printing process on a thin cream-colored wove paper with a black, oil-based printer’s ink.


Black Printing Ink: The media was laid down using a relief-printing method, using an oil-based black ink. There is an even halo of oil penetration around each of the letters in the text.

Primary Support
The primary support is a very thin, blue-gray colored wove paper that seems to be mold-made, due to the presence of a deckle-edge on the right/bottom broadside. There are ink smudges and oil transfer from proximity to other printed articles as a result of the original printing methods.



Each half of the broadside has sustained significant loss and damage to the top corners as a result of being mounted to a rigid mat with adhesive tape applied to the back. There has been some abrasion-related damage and minor tears to all edges, and there is mild grime overall.


  • Black Printing Ink: The black printing ink is in good condition.

Primary Support
Prior to treatment, the objects were mounted next to each other in a window mat. An adhesive paper-backed tape adhered to the back was employed to mount the top edges of the support to the mat-board. Due to their previous housing arrangement, the similarity of the support, and the content of the text, these objects may originally have been in one piece. However, due to the lack of certainty about their original format, these broadsides will be described individually according to how they were presented at the time of this examination. As per the original mounting, the broadside originally mounted on the left (“Complete Success”/Othello) will be referred to as “Left/Top Half” and the broadside mounted on the right (“The Labyrinth”) will be referred to as “Right/Bottom Half”. The Left/Top Half broadside does not have a printer’s name at the bottom, which would be typical of this type of object; the Right/Bottom Half broadside does have a printer’s name, suggesting that these two pieces may have once been the top and bottom halves of a single broadside.

As a result of the mounting method used, there has been significant damage along the top corners of both halves. The Left/Top Half was mounted on the back with a piece of tape in each corner, and an 8.5 cm long strip across the center of the top edge. The top left corner broke away, but remained mostly whole, from the rest of the support, approximately 3.2 cm from the left edge and 3.3 cm from the top edge of the support. A piece of tape 2.7 cm long by 1.9 cm high remains adhered to this fragment. The top right corner also broke away, with almost complete loss of the support; the only remaining piece of the top right corner is a fragment approximately 1.5 cm wide by 0.9 cm high, which is still adhered to the mounting tape.

The Right/Bottom Half was mounted using a piece of tape in each corner. There has been significant loss to these corners as a result. A 3 cm long by 0.9 cm high fragment was detached from the top right corner. A pair fragments – approximately 1.3 cm long by 0.5 high – were detached from the top left corner. The area of loss surrounding these fragments, in the top left corner, is approximately 1.2 cm high by 4.1 cm long.

There is minor grime overall on both halves, but especially along the edges and in the corners. There is a splattered pattern of round, 1-2 mm wide, brown stains that seems consistent with some sort of ink or a liquid such as tea. These stains are found in the lower 3 cm of the bottom edge on the verso side of the support, on both broadsides. There is also a 2mm wide brown accretion on the Left/Top Half broadside, approximately 3.8 cm from the left edge and 8 cm from the bottom edge.

Both halves have sustained damage from abrasion and minor handling tears along all edges. There is an 8.5 cm long crease in the bottom left corner of the Left/Top Half broadside. There is a 9.5 cm long crease in the bottom right corner of the Right/Bottom Half broadside.


Before Treatment: Digital images overall and close-ups of the corners in both raking and ambient light.

  1. Dry-clean the support where needed.
  2. Remove the mounting tape from the verso side of the support.
  3. Wash both halves in an alkaline DI water bath.
  4. While the support is still wet from the bath, line both halves separately with a thin Japanese tissue and wheat starch paste.
  5. Reattach corner fragments to lining using wheat starch paste.
  6. Re-house each half in individual Mylar sleeves, but keep together in a folder to replicate original housing arrangement and suggestion of the prior unification of the two halves of the broadside.

Completed in 2009.


1. Lunning, E and Perkinson, R. 1996. The Print Council of America Paper Sample Book. The Print Council of America.

Parchment Book Treatment

Martini Opitti Deutscher Poematum

  • Date: July 2009
  • Conservator: Suzy Morgan
  • Call Number/Collection: SPEC 831.5 061d, Northwestern University Library, Special Collections
  • Author: Martin Opitz
  • Imprint: Breslau, 1637
  • Title: Martini Opitti Deutscher Poematum
  • Dimensions (binding): H 22.4 x W 14.7 x T 3 (cm)
  • Dimensions (text block): H 21.7 x W 13.5 x T 2.7 (cm)



This is a contemporary, full parchment binding with wooden boards laced on with 3
leather sewing supports and 2 parchment tapes. The endbands are made of blue and
white linen thread sewn over a core of binder’s waste (parchment), which is laced into the
boards. The spine has a moderate round and shallow sho ulder. There are no spine
linings except for the parchment tapes and leather sewing supports.

The textblock is comprised of handmade, laid paper that has been printed with a black
printer’s ink. There is a visible type impression. The front pastedown is adhered only
along the spine-edge of the board, where the parchment tapes extend onto the board.

There is a spine label at the head that reads “Opitz 1637” and a paper label at the tail
spine with the call number.


Both boards are split, with the front board completely split into two pieces. There is also
a loss in the front wood board, at the head along the split. There is a minor split at the
head on the back board. The parchment is scarred, torn and stained. There is a loss in the
parchment on the spine, at the head. There is a split in the parchment along the back
joint, halfway down the spine from the head. The parchment has shrunk vertically,
exposing the front board edge and the headband. The headband is loose and nearly
detached from where it was laced into the boards.

The textblock consolidation is in good condition. The edges of the textblock are sooty.
There are several tears within the textblock at the following pages:
9, 315, 347, 350, 351, 355, 395. The last page is detached (p 697) from the textblock.
The front pastedown is tattered along the edges.

The front board has detached from the textblock and the sewing supports are split at the
joint on the front board.

Before Treatment:

Before TreatmentBefore Treatment

After Treatment:

After TreatmentAfter treatment


  1. Remove and line pastedown (and reattach as flyleaf).
  2. Unwrap parchment from front fore-edge to mend split in wood.
  3. Lift tapes from front board to release case.
  4. Use Paraloid B-72 to consolidate wooden boards along split, and a mixture of sawdust and B-72 to reattach the two pieces to each other.
  5. Rebridge sewing supports and reattach case to textblock.
  6. Mend losses in the parchment along the spine.
  7. Mend tears in textblock.


  1. Removed the front paste-down mechanically and lined it with Tengujo tissue that had been pre-coated with methyl cellulose which was reactivated with damp blotters prior to lining.
  2. The headband was removed by unlacing it from the board.
  3. The lining paper beneath the parchment along the spine was repaired using thin tissue and wheat starch paste.
  4. The parchment turn-ins on the front board were humidified and opened so that half of the split front board could be removed. This was the half of the board along the fore-edge, as the other half could not be removed because it was still laced into the case and adhered to the lining paper.
  5. The loose board piece was consolidated along the edges with B-72 and then lined with MacGregor paper and gelatin. The paper extended past the split edge of the board and was cut into tabs. The loose piece was then reattached to the other half of the board using the paper tabs and gelatin. The loss in the front board at the head was then filled in with a putty of cellulose powder and gelatin, which was then toned to match using pastels.
  6. Rebridging the sewing supports was determined to be too invasive, so instead, 2 extra supports of Okasan tissue were applied to the spine with gelatin between the sewing supports at the head and tail. The case was then reattached by adhering these new supports onto the board, and reattaching the lifted parchment tapes with gelatin.
  7. The lined front paste-down and loose back page were hinged onto the textblock with gelatin.
  8. The split in the parchment along the joints and the split at the head turn-ins were repaired with colored Kozo tissue applied with gelatin.
  9. The loss in the parchment at the head was filled using two layers of colored Kozo tissue and gelatin.
  10. The headband was reattached to the parchment turn-ins using extensions of Kozo tissue and gelatin adhered to the original laces.
  11. The front paste-down was given a second lining of Kizukishi tissue applied with wheat-starch paste, as the first lining was deemed to be not durable enough when rubbing against the edge of the parchment turn-ins.
  12. The various tears throughout the textblock were mended with thin Japanese tissue applied with wheat starch paste.