If Books Could Kill: A Deadly Secret in the Cullman Library

The Joseph F. Cullman 3rd Library of Natural History’s 1602 edition of Ulisse Aldrovandi’s De animalibus insectis has always been a favorite of mine, and the rest of our special collections staff. Aside from being the first European work dedicated solely to the natural history of insects and featuring numerous incredible woodcut illustrations, it also retains its beautiful contemporary binding. But this binding is just as dangerous as it is lovely: the more »

The Fix: Repairing Kaigara Danmen Zuan

In the Book Conservation Lab we sometimes treat books requiring intricate repairs. In November,  Kaigara Danmen Zuan printed in Kyoto in 1913 and authored by Yoichiro Hirase came to us for repair work. It was recently adopted through an Adopt-a-Book event hosted at the Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum.  The book itself is from that museum’s library. Hirase was a prominent malacologist (mollusk scientist) in Japan who collected over 3,500 seashells, 1,000 of which more »

The Fix: Conservation of Les Lépidoptères de la Belgique

This post was written by Ludivine Javelaud, intern in the Book Conservation Lab. I am currently a conservation graduate student at the Institut National du Patrimoine in Paris and I have been accepted to complete part of my 4th year internship requirement in the Book Conservation Lab in the Preservation Department at the Smithsonian Libraries.     One of the projects I am involved with is the conservation of a collection of more »

The Fix: Welcome Ludivine Javelaud!

In February, Ludivine Javelaud began a six month internship with Preservation Services in the Libraries’ book conservation lab. Ludivine was born in Limoges in the Limousin region of France. At an early age, she discovered a love for drawing and Art and she fondly recalls regular family visits to museums, castles, and historical sites.  These experiences led her to initially consider training to become a paintings conservator and she pursued and completed more »

The Fix: Removal of Pressure-Sensitive Tape

  In early March, the Smithsonian Libraries Preservation Department hosted the workshop: “Removal of Pressure Sensitive Tape and Tape Stains”. The instructors Linda Stiber Morenus and Elissa O’Loughlin have taught this course throughout the US and abroad for over 25 years. At our Smithsonian facility in Landover, Maryland, participants received in an overview of pressure-sensitive tapes, their production methods and manufacturing history, tape and adhesive identification, removal techniques, aspects of organic solvent more »

The Fix: Preservation and “Principles of Beauty Relative to the Human Head” Part II

A few months ago I wrote a detailed blog post on the treatment of the tissue paper overlays in Principles of Beauty Relative to the Human Head. The following blog post will detail the remaining treatment for this book.

The Fix: Maintaining an item’s received condition

Most of the items received in the Libraries’ Book Conservation Lab require intervention which may consist of treatments such as removing rusted staples; mending torn paper; or reattaching spine coverings. This active repair work often involves adding new thread, introducing new paper and adhesives, or replacing deteriorated cloth with a fresh piece that has been toned with acrylic paints. Items are minimally altered from their received condition and end up as a more »

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