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

Answers to our “Ask Me Anything”!

On April 30th, in honor of Preservation Week, the Smithsonian Libraries hosted an “Ask Me Anything” (AMA) question and answer session with our book conservator, Katie Wagner.  The conversation primarily took place on our Tumblr page, from 12-2pm.  Katie answered about 30 questions, related mostly to book care and treatment, the Libraries and our collections and careers in conservation.

The Fix: Binding Waste

This post was written by Vanessa Haight Smith, head of Preservation Services. When repairing older books, the Smithsonian Libraries conservators occasionally uncover evidence of recycling by the original bookbinders.  Paper from damaged and discarded volumes was frequently used when binding new books.  Why use a new, clean sheet of paper when a leftover scrap would work just as well?

MayDay – What’s in our disaster kit?

Each year archives, libraries, museums, and arts and historic preservation organizations set aside May 1 to participate in MayDay, an initiative created by Heritage Preservation to protect cultural heritage from disasters. Organizations are encouraged to do one thing for emergency preparedness. This year, the Libraries would like to share with you the content of our Emergency Response Kits.

The Fix: Building a Custom-Made Book Measurer

This year, The Smithsonian Libraries (SIL) was given a monetary award by the Smithsonian Collections Care and Preservation Fund (CCPF) to re-house 558 folio volumes of special materials collections housed at the Cooper-Hewitt National Design Library (CHMDL). These items were identified as requiring housing/re-housing by contract book conservators who conducted the CCPF funded condition survey of more than 4000 items at CHMDL in 2011-2012.

The Fix – Post Binding

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 »

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