A behind-the-scenes tour for Preservation Week

This week, April 23-29th 2017, is Preservation Week, a week set aside by the American Library Association to highlight the importance of conserving and properly caring for books, papers and other media,  in both institutional and personal collections. This year, we’re celebrating Preservation Week with a live, behind-the-scenes tour of our Book Conservation Lab, via Facebook Live. Viewers will have a chance to meet our conservation staff, learn about what they do more »

The Conservation of Random Records of a Lifetime

In preparation for the December 1st, 2016 170th birthday of William Henry Holmes  we repaired several of his “Random Records of  Lifetime”. The repairs enabled the volumes to be digitization and included in the transcription project. This is volume 1 of his multi-volume memoir/scrapbook.

Der Weltkrieg: an Adopt-a-Book Story

  A scrapbook from the Dibner Library of the History of Science and Technology came to the book conservation lab though our Adopt-a-Book program. Through the program, patrons can adopt a book for preservation or acquisition. This unusual book is a scrapbook used to house collectible cards that were found in cigarette packets in Germany during the 1930s. The binding was stapled and difficult to open because the staples were attached to the paper about 2 cm from the spine. The staples had also begun to oxidize further endangering the brittle paper. Several of the collectible cards were missing and almost all of the cards were detached or loose. The cards had been affixed to the scrapbook with an adhesive that degraded, losing its ability to hold the cards on the pages. A further concern was that the cards had information on the back of them. While this information matched the information on the scrapbook page it was in a different script. The scrapbook pages were in Fraktur script but the cards in a modern German script. This was a more »

The Fix – Manuscript Conservation

The conservation of manuscript pages can be very tricky. In the case of the McAuley Diary, from our Dibner Library of the History of Science and Technology, there were many issues. The manuscript consisted of multiple sized unbound sections housed together in a leather cover that was far too small for its contents. The pages were nearly all crumpled and torn and many pages had areas of loss. In this condition the text was more »

The trials and tribulations of post binding repair

The Book Conservation Lab often receives items that require new sewing or new adhesive on the text block as part of their treatment. Infrequently, an item arrives that has been bound atypically and extraordinary repair measures are needed.

The Fix – Ein Wintermärchen, an Adopt-a-Book Story

  Ein Wintermärchen (a winter story) is a children’s book from our Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum Library. The library holds an extensive collection of children’s books, around 2,000, with 1,200 being pop-up books. This particular volume came to the Book Conservation Lab through the Adopt-A-Book program.     The book is lavishly illustrated by Ernst Kreidolf, a well-known Swiss children’s book illustrator. Many of his books depict fairies and other mythical creatures, more »

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 »

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