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.
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!
This was originally published on the ConserveThis! Tumblr, on April 20, 2016.
Photograph Conservator, Gawain Weaver, has made available these handy and well-designed identification charts of 19th century photographic prints and photo-mechanical (lithography, collotypes, etc) processes! A great addition to any conservation lab, special collections reading room, or archives processing area!
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!
This Thursday, July 17, 2014 at 2:00 p.m. (Eastern) the Connecting to Collections Online Community is hosting a free, 60-minute webinar that will cover the basic storage and handling concerns for any institution holding books, whether special collections, circulating, or strictly reference.
All are welcome to participate. Simply click on the green “Access Meeting Room” button on the right-hand side of the Community home page at the time of the event.
In handling most archival documents gloves are more of a hindrance than a help and they can actually pose a threat. The main reasoning behind wearing gloves was to protect document surfaces from marks made by oily or sweaty hands. In fact, if you clean and dry your hands before handling archival documents this risk is significantly reduced. Handling archival documents with gloves puts them at greater risk of damage for a number of reasons:
Gloves can dull your senses. Your bare fingertips are very sensitive. They tell you exactly how fragile the paper or brittle the parchment of the document you are handling is. This means that you might damage the document by inadvertently handling it more roughly than you ought to.
Gloves can make you clumsy. Your hands are very dextrous but cotton gloves don’t always fit very well and can be quite thick, which means they have a potential to make picking up documents or separating pages more difficult. There is a greater potential for damage if you have to fumble with document corners or edges or if you have to grip harder than normal because of ill-fitting gloves.
Gloves can catch on fragile or previously damaged edges. This is especially true if the paper is brittle. If they do catch, this can cause tears or flaking of the pages.
Gloves get dirty. It is very easy to wash your hands if you find you have handled a particularly dusty or dirty document so that you don’t transfer the dirt to the next document you handle, but it is much more labour-intensive to have a fresh clean pair of gloves at the ready.
The white gloves have become almost a fetish for library/archives visitors, and it annoys me a lot. It gives the appearance of safety, without actually protecting the collection in MOST instances. Archival safety theatre! Clean hands are a lot safer for MOST paper-based objects than gloves. At the very least, I’d like to see those stupid white cotton gloves replaced with nitrile ones – Stanford has done just that, it seems, according to their Reading Room Policies.