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.

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 couch cushions. This 2-volume herbal was used by a previous owner as a plant press, and many leaves, flowers and other assorted plant parts were discovered in-between its pages by our special collections librarian.

The plants had already caused damage, such as acid-burn and staining, and also made it difficult for readers to handle or read this book. So we made the decision to remove the inserted plant matter. We photographed all of the pages with plants in them, then carefully removed all of the larger material. However, there were a lot of smaller plant pieces that got wedged down in the gutter of the pages, so I gathered up all of my favorite small tools and got down to work!

The majority of the pages were fairly easy to sweep clean with my soft squirrel-hair brush, but there were three that were literally FULL of dirt. Those took me almost 30 minutes each to clean out fully, using a combination of tools that included a dental scaler, microspatula, a stiff small brush and a mini-vacuum. While using the dental scaler I had to be very careful not to poke holes in the paper or get caught on the sewing thread, but it turned out to be a very useful tool indeed!

Before cleaning
After cleaning

This was originally published on the ConserveThis! Tumblr, on April 20, 2016.

Dot Porter, Curator, Digital Research Services at the University of Pennsylvania Library, offers a video orientation to Penn Library’s LJS 189,  Zakhīrah-ʹi Khvārazmshāhī, by Ismāʻīl ibn Ḥasan Jurjānī. The manuscript was written in Persia in the 14th century, in Persian. It is a medical encyclopedia in 9 books, with discussions of physiology, anatomy, pathology, diagnosis, fevers, specific diseases, surgery, fractures, poisons, and antidotes. Includes indexes, although some leaves are missing. Most leaves re-margined with pink paper; a few leaves have original margins and extensive marginal notes or commentary.

Whoa, that pink! That’s wild. 

Also, shout-out to their curator, for eschewing those silly white gloves! Thank you for not embracing their unnecessary use! Gold star!

Coming Up: Caring for Books | Connecting to Collections Online Community

Coming Up: Caring for Books | Connecting to Collections Online Community

The gloves are off

The gloves are off