The Fix: Hidden Manuscripts

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 »

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 »

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 »

Conservation of World’s Fair Pop-Up Books

    A set of four pop up books from the World’s Columbian Exposition of 1893 were recently treated in the book conservation lab.  The books are part of the Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum Library World’s Fair materials. The World’s Columbian Exposition took place in Chicago in 1893 and these four books reveal four different views of the exposition.  The four books were in good condition for pop-up books.  The chromolithographic prints are more »

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?

Follow Us

Latest Tweets