The Fix – Understanding Leather

As a book conservator for the Smithsonian Libraries I’ve been given ample opportunity to expand my knowledge through workshops, seminars and professional meetings. One of the most interesting opportunities I’ve recently had was to attend a week long workshop, “Understanding Leather: From Tannery to Collection,” in Northampton, England. The workshop was held at the Leather Conservation Centre, an international center for leather conservation and research, on the campus of the University of Northampton. The course more »

The Fix – Book Detective

When a book arrives in the Conservation Lab the first order of business is often detective work. The binding is examined to determine if it is original to the book, the paper is analyzed for clues to its origin, and scraps of paper or other ephemera enlighten us as to the provenance of the book. Recently, a particularly intriguing volume, Botanicon,  came to us from the Joseph F. Cullman 3rd Library of Natural History.

A postgraduate work placement experience

This post was written by Roger Williams, intern in our Book Conservation Lab. I came to the Smithsonian for six weeks for the work-placement segment of my studies at West Dean College. As a Virginia native and a longtime visitor of the Smithsonian, I was excited at the opportunity to get some real-world experience both close to home and at one of the most impressive museums on the planet.

Meet Michael Keeling

Smithsonian Libraries is pleased to welcome Michael Keeling to the Preservation Services Department. Michael is a D.C. native and a graduate of Johns Hopkins University and the NYU creative writing program. Previously, he worked as a collections care technician at the Library of Congress.

The Fix – Outfitting a Satellite Conservation Lab

We recently carved out some space in the Natural History Building for a Conservation and Digitization Annex. The Annex allows us to do low to medium level repair on site where many of our Library books are housed. Preservation staff share the space with our digitization team. The goal was to reduce the amount of shipping between our main conservation lab  (located offsite in Maryland) and the majority of our materials located on more »

The Fix – Atlas Science Tablet

It’s that back to school time of year with backpacks filled with new school supplies.  If you were a student in the 1890s you may have had a new “Atlas Science Tablet” in your school bag. This particular tablet was for botany with 28 pages for notes. However, the notes in this  tablet pertain to mathematics with entry titles such as “The Geometric Representation of Numbers.”     The tablet came to the book conservation more »

Conservation of World’s Fair Pop-Up Books

    A set of four pop up books from the World’s Columbian Exposition of 1893 were recently treated in the book conservation lab.  The books are part of the Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum Library World’s Fair materials. The World’s Columbian Exposition took place in Chicago in 1893 and these four books reveal four different views of the exposition.  The four books were in good condition for pop-up books.  The chromolithographic prints are more »

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