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 more »
Faith Congregational Church in Hartford, Connecticut has a 195 year legacy that includes a noteworthy collection of historical materials, including an extensive collection of historical papers and artifacts. This collection more »
Recently an Artist’s Book, from the American Art and National Portrait Gallery Library, arrived at the Conservation Lab in need of a suitable protective housing. The Quilts of Gee’s Bend more »
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 possible.
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 not legible and attempts to turn pages could result in further damage from tearing. We proceed cautiously with hand written documents as many inks become unstable over time and are very sensitive to water.
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.