Older hardcover books within the Smithsonian Libraries’ circulating collections often contain unique information which serve staff and patrons over the course of many years. With age and use, these items sometimes begin to break along the hinges. The book cloth becomes frayed, torn, or cracked and the spine piece may separate completely from the boards. This damage necessitates a repair which will conserve and recreate the original binding structure as much as more »
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 »
Book supports or, more aptly named, cradles are used to display bound library materials in exhibitions. The Smithsonian Libraries plans and installs two exhibitions each year that include as many as a hundred volumes on display at a given time. Since books come in various sizes shapes and materials, a proper support is necessary to assure that the book rests comfortably while on exhibit yet have the cradle remain somewhat invisible.
In anticipation of Smithsonian Libraries’ participation in this year’s Museum Day Live events on Saturday March 12th, we wanted to highlight Library Preservation work at the Book Conservation Lab here at Smithsonian Libraries, and draw attention to the varied interests and skills that are inherent to Preservation work and are important and driving forces in preserving library collections for the future.
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 conservation of special collections materials is rarely a straightforward endeavor. It’s important to treat each item as a unique object, and to let its particular history and condition drive the decision-making process. Often, the path forward is only revealed once treatment begins, as the conservator becomes more and more familiar with the book, sometimes through research and analysis, but often simply by observing and handling the book over a period of more »
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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