A Typical Case of Repair Work

Many books within the various general collections of the Smithsonian Libraries arrive at the Book Conservation Lab in need of similar treatment. Though the several collections in the Natural History Museum Libraries are largely filled with science related items, some reveal aspects of the natural world through artistic and literary presentations. Recently, a book of this type, entitled The Poetry of Nature, selected and illustrated by Harrison Weir and published in 1868, more »

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 – Paperwork you can love

This post was written by Vanessa Haight Smith, Head of Preservation Services. The Book Conservation Lab makes use of hand-made marbled papers in some of our book treatments and projects.  Originally used for decorative book covers and endsheets, marbled papers are occasionally replaced during treatments with new handmade papers when the originals are substantially damaged or missing. 

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 – The Art of Camouflage

This post was written by Vanessa Haight Smith, Head of Preservation Services.  Japanese paper is used for many applications in book and paper conservation and I often choose this material when reattaching weak or detached boards.  The practice of toning Japanese paper hinges for reattaching boards to leather bindings, promoted by conservator Don Etherington, is widely used in the field.

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 »

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