The Fix: Flawless Fills with Paper Pulp

On September 9-11th, Smithsonian Libraries hosted the workshop: “Using Pigment-toned Paper Pulp to Create Flawless Fills for Works of Art on Paper and Archival Material,” instructed by Margo McFarland-Rothschild, who has taught these techniques previously at the Campbell Center for Historic Preservation Studies and has her own conservation and consulting practice in the Chicago area. At Smithsonian Libraries’ Book Conservation Lab participants prepared and pigmented paper pulp to use in concert with more »

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.

Celebrate Preservation Week!

Memories and treasures should last a lifetime and be passed on to future generations. Sponsored by the ALA’s Association of Library Collections and Services and partner organizations, Preservation Week was created in 2010 to address the roughly 630 million items in collecting institutions that are in need of immediate attention and care, as well as to help individuals protect and store their personal, family and community collections.

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.

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 »

The Fix: Common Conservation Techniques for Stabilizing Books

This post was written by Katie Boodle, Book Conservation Lab intern. As part of the Smithsonian Libraries’ Conservation of Library Materials Internship, I had the opportunity to work on projects that addressed common conservation problems in archives and special collections: preparing works for digitization and creation of enclosures. Conservation in general is focused primarily on the stabilization of ethnographic, historical, and/or artistic objects for future or continued use. A lot of our more »

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