Ask Our Book Conservator Anything!

April 11, 2014

On April 30th, in celebration of Preservation Week , the Smithsonian Libraries will host a question and answer session with our book conservator, Katie Wagner. Do you have a question about how to care for your own books or how we care for ours at the Smithsonian? Now is your chance to ask our expert!  

The Fix – Post Binding

January 15, 2014

Last year a book came into the Book Conservation Lab as part of the Smithsonian Libraries Adopt-a-Book program. The book, Systema Entomological by Heinrich Buchecker, was in two distinct pieces – text and plates.  The color lithographic plates, depicting dragonflies, were printed on paper that is a higher quality than the text. Unfortunately, the text is printed on highly acidic paper that has become brittle with age. Usually the decision to post bind is more »

The Fix – FAO Schwarz 1911 Toy Catalog

December 23, 2013

New York at Christmas time evokes many memories but as a child it meant a visit to FAO Schwarz, the oldest toy store in the United States. When a 1911 catalog from the famed toy store landed in the Book Conservation Lab it was like an early Christmas present!

Asian Paper Workshop

November 29, 2013

On November 20-22 the Smithsonian Libraries hosted a three day workshop, “Understanding Asian Papers and their Applications in Paper Conservation,” given by Minah Song, a paper conservator at the Conservation Center for Art and Historic Artifacts (CCAHA) in Philadelphia. The workshop began with a lecture on the process of papermaking in China, Korea and Japan and then moved onto hands-on techniques including learning different lining techniques, toning or paper with fiber reactive dyes, parchment repair and more »

The Scariest Book in Our Collection?

October 31, 2013

  From the outside “A Samoan Dictionary” looks fairly innocuous, but inside lies horror that would strike fear in the heart of any conservator (or book lover). The cover looks like an after thought – a simple piece of vellum with a handwritten title. Upon closer inspection it is evident that the cover is a recycled piece of vellum.  The faint images of rows of typed numbers are visible to the naked eye.  more »

Helping you care for your collections

April 21-27 is Preservation Week!  In honor of this event, we’ve featured preservation-related content on the Smithsonian Libraries’ blog as well as our other social media outlets, like Facebook, Twitter and Tumblr. We hope you’ve enjoyed getting a peek at preservation activities at the Smithsonian Libraries and beyond. Today we have few helpful links that might assist you in caring for your own  books and collections!

The Fix – Bauhaus

The conservation lab received, from the American Art Museum/National Portrait Gallery Library, a first edition of the first Bauhaus exhibition catalog: Staatliches Bauhaus, Weimar, 1919-1923.  In addition to being a rare copy of this catalog, it is inscribed to the painter Werner Drewes by his Bauhaus teacher, Wassily Kandinsky. The book was in disrepair with the covers detached.  A spine “replacement”  fashioned out of a piece of electrical tape had left tape residue on the Herbert Bayer designed cover. Additionally, the paper used for the catalog was highly acidic and discolored and the acidic clay coated plates were chipping.

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