The Fix: Treating Historic Sheet Music

Earlier this year, two music manuscripts arrived in the book conservation lab from the Dibner Library for the History of Science and Technology. These two small items, James Bishop’s musical Gamut of 1766, and Uri Bishop’s Military Music from the War of 1812, were part of a donation earlier in the year by James L. Cerruti and his sister Vera V. Magruder. The generous gift was featured in a Smithsonian Libraries blog more »

Preservation and “Principles of Beauty Relative to the Human Head”

Principles of Beauty Relative to the Human Head by Alexander Cozens was published in 1778 by James Dixwell in London. It is a large book measuring 55 by 38 centimeters (21.5 by 15 inches) and is part of the American Art and Portrait Gallery Library collection. It came to the Book Conservation Lab as part of Smithsonian Libraries Adopt-a-Book program. The content includes printed drawings of women’s heads and their various facial more »

Repairing “Home Life in Tokyo”’s Original, Protective Portfolio Enclosure

A few months ago, a book from the Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery Library came for treatment to the Book Conservation Lab: Home Life in Tokyo.  Our copy, printed in 1911, is a softback binding, common for Japanese publications, and according to the bibliographic record, it was “issued in a portfolio.” The book itself was in very good condition, however, after many years of protecting the soft-backed book, more »

Saving Endsheets during spine covering repair

Endsheets at the front and back of most hardcover books serve as a protection and an attachment device. The outermost sheet, or pastedown, is typically glued to the interior of the cover board, while the pastedown’s other half, known as the flyleaf, serves as a shield between the board and the first and last leaves of the textblock. Pastedowns may be blank; marbled with a colorful design; or illustrated. If an illustration more »

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 Fix: Pest Damage

A book, The Flying Spy,  from the National Air and Space Museum Library came to the Book Conservation Lab with a unique, though not exactly rare, problem: Pest Damage.   As book lovers and good library patrons, we all know the importance of the proper handling of books. For example, we know to store them properly (up off the floor, away from damp conditions), handle them gently, and to not eat nor more »

Saved from Staples: Treating a metal-stapled pamphlet

Pamphlets, brochures, and other publications of thin width, are often bound with metal staples. The passage of time and environmental conditions, such as high humidity, may sometimes cause staples to corrode. Rust, flaking off of the metal, can stain and damage the integrity of the surrounding paper. To help maintain the longevity of an item that has suffered this type of damage, it is best to remove the staples and effect repairs more »

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