The Fix: Building a Custom-Made Book Measurer

March 28, 2014

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

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 »

Preserving Alphabets and Needlework – the Smithsonian Women’s Committee

November 8, 2013

The Smithsonian Women’s Committee granted the Cooper-Hewitt National Design Library an award in 2012-13 for the preservation and re-housing of two important and rare embroidery and lace manuals dating from the early 17th and late 18th century. Due to their poor and fragile condition, they could not be handled and would have continued to deteriorate if left untreated.

The Fix – Re-housing

September 16, 2013

  Re-housing is one of the least glamorous but most important responsibilities of the Smithsonian Libraries Conservation Department.  Re-housing encompasses placing library materials into protective enclosures ranging from ready-made acid free envelopes to intricate custom made boxes.  It is a way to treat a large number of materials fairly quickly providing them with a stable environment.  For this set of Eugène Séguy prints form the Joseph F. Cullman III Library of Natural History more »

The Fix- Ultrasonic Welder Repair

August 14, 2013

  The Book Conservation Lab recently had a visit from bookbinder and inventor Bill Minter. Bill created the Ultrasonic Welder we use in the lab for encapsulating items.  Encapsulation entails sealing an item between two sheets of Mylar (an inert polyester resin.) The welder is particularly useful for encapsulating brittle, fragile items ensuring that information is preserved while allowing them to be handled.   Bill disassembled the motor unit, cleaned and oiled the machine and replaced several more »

Chilling out with rare books

August 2, 2013

This post was written by Morgan Arronson, intern in the Dibner Library for the History and Science and Technology and Preservation Department. If you want to stay cool during DC’s hot and humid summer, head to the Smithsonian and find the nearest rare book. Instantly a wave of cool air will rush by. This may sound strange but it works every time. Here at the Smithsonian’s Dibner Library and the Book Conservation more »

The Book Conservation Lab: A Brief Tour

April 21-27 is Preservation Week!  In honor of this event, we will be featuring preservation-related content on the Smithsonian Libraries’ blog as well as our other social media outlets, like Facebook, Twitter and Tumblr. Today, we offer you a peek inside our own Book Conservation Lab! The Preservation Services Division of the Smithsonian Libraries is committed to the preservation, safe exhibition, and long-term access to collections objects, many of which are irreplaceable. The primary mission of the Book Conservation Lab (BCL) is to treat special and general collections items needed for research, exhibition or digitization.

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