Digital Print Crash Course

Digital print poster

Digital print poster

For 3 days in late October I joined a group of 15 conservation and archive professionals from as far away as Germany, Mexico City and the Northwest Territories of Canada for the “Identification and Preservation of Digital Prints” workshop at the Image Permanence Institute (IPI) at the Rochester Institute of Technology.

We learned about what curators might consider to be digital prints, what types of digital prints can be found within a collection, what their greatest vulnerabilities are, and how to differentiate between them. The workshop focused predominantly on the three most common types of digital prints: dye-sublimation prints, created through a process which uses heat to impregnate a surface with color; electrophotographic prints, which use toner-based colorants; and inkjet prints. We also discussed the best types of enclosures for storage, and how to use naming conventions to help collection curators and conservators identify these objects so as to best house, store, conserve and exhibit them.

Dye-sublimation prints are the least common of the three main types. The analog version of the process was invented for the textile industry and the digital version continues to be used to print images on fabrics as well as photo gifts like mugs. It doesn’t require liquid chemicals so it’s also popular for ID photos, photo booths, and instant photo kiosks in drugstores.  Generally speaking they can be stored and handled using the same guidelines as chromogenic prints as their vulnerabilities are similar. Light can cause fading over time, very high heat can cause bleeding. Most importantly though, while the clothes and mugs are obviously washable, the photos can delaminate in water, as shown below.

Dye-sub delamination

Dye-sub delamination

Almost everything printed on a copier or a laser printer is an electrophotographic print. They are ubiquitous in the documentation surrounding cultural heritage collections, if not in the collections themselves. The printing process is similar to that of photocopiers, though nowadays the image comes from a stored digital file rather than creating a photographic reproduction of an image. These kinds of prints are fairly stable. Though they can sometimes transfer with heat, or crack or abrade, their greatest vulnerability is the paper they are printed on, which can be almost any type of paper imaginable. In general they should be handled and stored the same way photocopies are stored and handled.

Inkjet prints show up as documents and ephemera as well as in the form of photographs and fine art prints. They can be made up of a broad range of papers and inks, many of them proprietary, which means it may be difficult to identify them accurately and their sensitivities to light, water, pollution, etc. can vary greatly. In general they are the most unstable of all the types of digital prints and therefore require the most care and attention for preservation efforts. We experimented to see how different inkjet prints responded to abrasion and exposure to water. From these tests we could see that even light friction or a tiny drop of water can be damaging to some types of inkjet prints. For a generalized approach to housing and storage of inkjet photos and art prints IPI recommends handling with gloves, using polyester enclosures and interleaving (paper enclosures can cause losses or burnishing), mounting with window mats, using UV glass when framing, and monitoring any exhibited prints closely throughout the exhibit. IPI’s handy mini-poster, Tips for Handling Inkjet Prints can even be printed out and included in enclosures.

Immersed inkjet print

Immersed inkjet print

It became very clear during this workshop that the term “digital print” can cover a dizzying array of objects. Curators, collectors and conservators like to have more specific descriptors for the media they are working with. For most purposes differentiating between electrophotographic, dye-sublimation, and inkjet prints in documentation is sufficient, but conservators in particular would benefit from even greater detail such as, “dye inkjet print on uncoated paper.” IPI strongly recommends that when new acquisitions are made a detailed document such as Martin Jurgens’ “Datasheet for Documentation of Digital Prints” from his book, The Digital Print: Identification and Preservation, be completed whenever possible.

Along with a very handy pocket microscope, digital print sample set, a color copy of the freely downloadable IPI Guide to Preservation of Digitally Printed Photographs, and a binder of the workshop’s Powerpoint presentations, IPI provided us with a tour of the online tools they have created. Their Graphics Atlas website, http://www.graphicsatlas.org/, is particularly useful for identifying different types of photographs and prints, and the DP3 (Digital Print Preservation Portal) website, http://www.dp3project.org/, is an excellent resource for information on preserving digital prints. While visiting I also purchased a copy of Meghan Connor and Daniel Burge’s book, The Atlas of Water Damage on Inkjet-Printed Fine Art, which I found informative. Seeing how a pocket LED work light like the Larry light could be used to generate different angles of light to help in print identification on the fly was extremely helpful too.

I can’t recommend this workshop highly enough. I learned a great deal over those three days in October. I am very grateful to the Image Permanence Institute, the Ohio Preservation Council, The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, The Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County, The Institute of Museum and Library Services, and my colleagues at The Preservation Lab for helping to make my attendance possible.

Veronica Sorcher (PLCH) — Conservation Technician

Nineteenth Century Buddhist Religious Treatise

Palm leaf manuscriptIn August of this year, the Lab received a Palm leaf book from Archives and Rare Books library during one of our usual monthly meetings. This item was brought to the Lab to receive a new enclosure for a better long-term preservation storage and easier access. Along with a new enclosure, the Lab was asked to create two surrogates of one of the original Palm Leaves for classroom use.  Under the direction of Ashleigh Schieszer, lab conservator, technician Chris Voynovich constructed the housing working closely with Catarina Figuierinhas who created the surrogate leaves.

Palm leaf

Creating Surrogates

In order to create an accurate surrogate of one of the Palm leaves, the Palm leaf book was taken to the University of Cincinnati Digitization Lab to be photographed with a PhaseOne Reprographic System. This system includes 60 MP PhaseOne digital back, DT RCam with electronic shutter, Schneider 72 mm lens, and a motorized copy stand. At the digitization Lab, one of the Palm leaves was digitized, recto and verso. The collaboration between labs allows the Preservation Lab to obtain a great quality image of a Palm leaf to print a high quality surrogate.

i37044734_1197_dig01ni37044734_1197_dig02n

Once the Preservation Lab received an image with enough quality to work with, the process of creating a surrogate started.

In order to create a surrogate, it is important to have in mind several different aspects such as the purpose of the surrogate and the physical characteristics of the original object (texture, thickness and colors). When thinking about the purpose of the surrogate one has to answer questions such as: Is the surrogate going to be displayed or handled?  If so, how?  Behind a glass case? Will it need a presentation enclosure?

In this case, the purpose was for the librarian to be able to show a “real” palm leaf page without having to actually handle the original fragile leaves.  Also, having a surrogate of a palm leaf would allow patrons and scholars to handle a replica of an original object without having to unwrap and open the book.

Our goal was to create two surrogates; one in color, true to the original Palm leaf page; and _dsc1362another black and white, allowing the writing to be read easier.

Since we wanted to create a surrogate as identical as possible to the original, it was necessary to study the original object’s texture and thickness, as well as consider specific details such as gilt edges or punched holes.

The first step was to select several papers to test for printing.  Selected papers had a similar texture and thickness to the original Palm Leaf and/or were selected because they contained a handy ICC profile.

Once the papers were chosen for texture, thickness and color profiling, the image obtained from the Digitization Lab was enhanced in Adobe Photoshop CC 2015 and several surrogate samples were printed using a P7000 Epson Printer pigmented ink jet printer.

Middle holes were punched with a Japanese hole punch.

Middle holes were punched with a Japanese hole punch.

Surprisingly, papers containing ICC profiles did not necessarily produce a more accurate color representation.

Finally, after several trials and errors, a different paper was chosen for each surrogate. The colored surrogate was printed on an archival UltraSmooth Fine Art Epson paper.  The black and white surrogate was printed on an acid-free Curtis Brightwater Artesian white smooth paper.

Edges of the colored surrogate were pained with iridescent gold acrylic paint.

Edges of the colored surrogate were pained with iridescent gold acrylic paint.

Once the surrogates were printed and cut to the exact dimensions, the final finishing touches were made. On both surrogates, the middle holes were punctured in the same fashion as the original palm leaf.  For the colored surrogate, the edges were colored with an iridescent gold Golden High flow Acrylic.  Once the surrogates were complete, the process of constructing an enclosure for both the surrogates and the original object began.

 

 

Constructing a new enclosure

I’ve heard the joy should not be in the finished product but in the process. I have to say I agree with that theory. I love receiving a challenge like this and pounding out a solution. This particular enclosure had many facets which turned out to be exciting as well as rewarding to problem solve together with lab staff.

plam-leaf-3

Using a structure engineered by our lab conservator, first, I created a double-sided sink mat with two open windows to display both sides of the two surrogates.  Rare earth magnets were introduced as fasteners to hold the objects secure inside each mat. The surrogates are supported and viewable through a Vivak and polyester transparent L-sleeve, which is removable.   The Vivak and polyester sleeve was welded together on the lab’s Minter ultrasonic welder.

i37044734_1197_d05n_surrogate_packing_1

Volara supports were constructed to cradle the book so the gilding would not touch any abrasive surfaces, and so there would be a support for the cover once opened. The surrogates help provide information to patrons without causing wear and tear on the fragile book through handling. Originally, we considered storing the surrogates in a tray below or above the book to conserve shelf space, however by arranging the mats next to the object, they could immediately be on display when the enclosure is opened.  I am pleased with the outcome.  It is now possible to enjoy all the parts of this amazing work within the enclosure itself while minimizing the opportunity for damage, as well as providing a “wow!” factor.

i37044734_1197_d02n_packing_1i37044734_1197_d03n_packing_1

Final enclosure with the original palm leaf book and surrogates.

Catarina Figueirinhas (UCL) — Senior Conservation Technician

Ashleigh Schieszer (PLCH) — Book and Paper Conservator

Chris Voynovich (PLCH) — Conservation Technician

Photo credit:  Jessica Ebert (UCL) — Conservation Technician

 

 

Congrats on 10 Years of Service!

Yesterday, two of the Preservation Lab’s workers were recognized for 10 years of hard work and service at the Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County.  Veronica Sorcher, Senior Conservation Technician, and Alex Temple, Preservation Lab volunteer.  Having previously been a University of Cincinnati student, Alex Temple worked in the Preservation Lab for many years as a student worker while also working part time at the Public Library.  We’re lucky to have Alex continue on in the lab as a volunteer even after graduating!

Thanks for all your years of hard work and dedication to preserving our library’s cultural heritage!

Alex Temple

Alex Temple, assisting with a special collections storage move at the Public Library.

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Veronica Sorcher, Senior Conservation Technician looks at digital prints through a Carson Microbrite Plus microscope.

Veronica at work

Check out the microscope at http://www.carson.com/products/microbrite-plus-mm-300/.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Connections. Collaboration. Community. Oh My!

Each year, the International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions (IFLA) holds an annual conference bringing together colleagues from over 120 countries to experience international librarianship.  Past conferences have been held in Istanbul, Singapore, Berlin, and Bangkok.  In August of 2016, IFLA hosted their annual conference in Columbus, Ohio titled, Connections.  Collaboration.  Community.

On August 19th, as part of the University of Cincinnati Libraries tour, the Preservation Lab was honored to welcome our international librarian colleagues for a visit to our lab where we discussed our role in collaborative preservation within Ohio – and locally as a conservation lab serving two institutions.

During our 40-minute tour, we highlighted treatments for special collections and discussed the importance of treatment documentation.  Ashleigh invited guests to see in-process treatments and demonstrated filling paper losses using leaf casting techniques on a suction platen.  Jessica walked visitors through the lab’s treatment documentation process in the conservation lab’s digital photography studio.  Teaming up on preservation were Holly and Hyacinth who showcased preventative storage enclosures and exhibition mounts.  They worked in conjunction with Veronica who carefully hot-stamped bookmarks to make keep-sake souvenirs for guests to take home from the lab.

IFLA 2016

Conservation Technician, Jessica Ebert discusses conservation photographic documentation during an IFLA Langsam Library Tour.

IFLA 2016

IFLA tour guest communicates with Alex Temple, lab volunteer, with translation assistance from library staff member Yu Mao

We’re absolutely honored to have participated on this year’s American IFLA post-conference activities and were delighted to present about the work our collaborative lab conducts to preserve both academic and public library materials.

Next year, IFLA’s annual meeting will be held in Wroclaw, Poland.  Click here to learn more about this international professional library association.

If you’re interested in hearing more about the Cincinnati IFLA tours, check out the UC Libraries blog and Ohio Library Council’s website.

Polyester Encapsulated Page Binding *Part One: The Structure

The past two years have become an exploration into encapsulated page bindings!

Recently, I found myself faced with a fascinating scrapbook preservation project from the Public Library: the scrapbook of Althea Hurst.  I took the opportunity to further research encapsulated bindings made by other institutions to find an existing solution that would fit the needs of the Public Library’s scrapbook.

I didn’t know much about making an encapsulated binding before starting these projects, other than the bindings are usually time consuming and expensive due to the amount of welding and polyester film required.

Being a novice at the traditional encapsulated page binding, I started off with the following criteria in mind:

  • Something elegant to house an important object
  • Lightweight, protective, yet strong and supportive for large brittle books
  • Reversible for displaying pages, future repair, or digitizing parts

I figured, “This will be easy.  I’ll take a quick look to learn the structure of a traditional encapsulated binding and be on my way to preserve the attached parts.”

Little did I know, after reading a few articles and surveying a few structures – there isn’t a standard model.  There are many variations depending on how an object is used, as well as the condition of an object and format.  I was surprised to find that encapsulated bindings can be screw post bound or sewn in a variety of ways!

Here are a few case study examples:

Example #1: Larry Yerkes model, images from the University of Iowa Libraries’ website

UofM    UofIowahttp://digital.lib.uiowa.edu/cdm/compoundobject/collection/binding/id/55/rec/4

This is a full cloth covered binding that doesn’t reveal that it is an encapsulated page binding until you take a closer look inside.  I especially like that the pages are supported overall due the setback joint of the cover.  Also, the spine is covered, protecting the encapsulated pages from dust.

The drawback to this structure is it might take a little work to remove the case if the object needs to be disbound, thus requiring a new case for rebinding, resulting in an expense of time and resources.  However, I found it an overall elegant construction and took note of the protective paper endsheets.

Example #2: Oversized Classics Library Binding, bound by the collaborative Cincinnati Preservation Lab

THE PRESERVATION LAB: A collaboration between the University of Cincinnati and the Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County Object Institution & Library: UC, Classics CALL #: Z114 .C46 v.1 SUBJECT: Oversized leather half bindings with paleography plates DATABASE ID: 765 ITEM #: i22790160 TREATMENT ID: 155 LIGHTING: EcoSmart 27-Watt (100W) Full Spectrum Craft CFL Fluorescent FILTER(s): none COMMENTS: Volume 1 (item record #: i22790160, database #: 765, treatment ID: 155) and Volume 2 (item record #: i22790172, database #: 764, treatment ID: 156) were both treated in similar manners - disbound, surface cleaned, text -washed, text encapsulated with hollytex hinge and bound, and plates guarded, resewn, and bound into a split board binding. Both the text & plates for each volume were boxed together in identical corrugated clamshell boxes. CREATOR: Jessica Ebert WEBSITE: thepreservationlab.org

THE PRESERVATION LAB: A collaboration between the University of Cincinnati and the Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County Object Institution & Library: UC, Classics CALL #: Z114 .C46 v.1 SUBJECT: Oversized leather half bindings with paleography plates DATABASE ID: 765 ITEM #: i22790160 TREATMENT ID: 155 LIGHTING: EcoSmart 27-Watt (100W) Full Spectrum Craft CFL Fluorescent FILTER(s): none COMMENTS: Volume 1 (item record #: i22790160, database #: 765, treatment ID: 155) and Volume 2 (item record #: i22790172, database #: 764, treatment ID: 156) were both treated in similar manners - disbound, surface cleaned, text -washed, text encapsulated with hollytex hinge and bound, and plates guarded, resewn, and bound into a split board binding. Both the text & plates for each volume were boxed together in identical corrugated clamshell boxes. CREATOR: Jessica Ebert WEBSITE: thepreservationlab.org

The Lab’s first encapsulated binding project was to house a brittle oversized text from the University of Cincinnati’s Classics Library after it received in-depth treatment.  The first structure we experimented with was a modified full-leather-over-an-exposed-spine binding structure.  This structure was taught to the lab’s technicians Veronica Sorcher and Chris Voynovich at a course by Gabrielle Fox.  The sewn structure was altered from Gabrielle’s original form by using a cloth covering.  The textblock consisted of polyester leaves welded into folios with Hollytex hinges (a new technique I discovered last year – more on this in Part Two).  It was sewn with a single pamphlet stitch through each gathering, therefore, should a gathering need to be removed in the future, it could be cut out without disturbing the rest of the binding.  I found this solution extremely satisfying. The rounded spine structure complimented the second volume’s split board library binding well. It handled nicely and opened flat – perfect for a paleontology class to flip through while looking at a book of plates.

Example #3:  Binding by my predecessor, Kathy Lechuga, bound at the Preservation Lab in Cincinnati.

A000032750523 AT1 reduced    A000032750523 AT3 reduced

This is a traditional structure that is elegantly quarter bound with a cloth spine and marbled paper boards.   I like that this is a relatively quick structure to construct compared to the University of Iowa model.  This design is perfect for a thin group of lightweight paper as shown in the image above.  It’s a screw post binding which makes it reversible.  Since the spine is uncovered, it can easily expand if additional pages are added later.  This structure is reversible and adjustable without the need to construct a new binding.

In the above example, the screw posts are positioned on the inside of the cover.  There are no exposed screws on the outside of the book, so books adjacent to the binding on the shelf are not at risk to abrasion.  However, compared to the University of Iowa’s version, I noticed that the position of the posts places the cover’s joint at the edge of the spine, rather than set back.  This results in pages that are unsupported near the gutter when open.

In the above example, it’s not an issue for the pages to flex near the gutter.  I think this is a perfect structure for the needs of this specific object, however, I kept this in mind since flexing at the gutter might be problematic for an oversized heavy scrapbook with brittle pages that are crumbling.  To remedy this, the screw posts would need to be situated on the outside of the binding so the cover’s joint would be set back.  Unfortunately, some may argue screws on the outside of the binding aren’t quite as elegant.

After reading Henry Hebert’s extremely descriptive article in Archival Products News, I saw a beautiful example of screw posts on the outside of the binding and I really liked how the brittle pages were supported overall.  Was there a way to have the best of both worlds?

Example #3:  Ohio Book Store, Cincinnati, Ohio

VR_binding

http://www.ohiobookstore.net/images/VR_binding.jpg

Similar to Kathy’s version, this binding contains a few fancy additions: A reversible cloth spine and an extra flap to cover the screw posts.  This flap helps protect the screw posts from rubbing on the inside of the cover, as well as possibly preventing the screws from loosening overtime.

Example #4: University of Michigan Side Sewn Binding

EncapsulatedBindingInstructions_UM_AishaWahab-3

One of the final versions I came across was the side sewn cased-in binding introduced to me by my talented Buffalo State classmate, Aisha Wahab.  I loved that the binding was sewn.  In a pinch if I was out of screw posts I needn’t worry.  But more importantly, this binding is elegant, the spine protected, and perfect for housing thinner books that don’t need the thickness of the aluminum post.  The only issue – not as easily reversible as other bindings since the sewing was covered by cloth.

Through my research, I didn’t find a quick fix with a one-size-fits-all structure to meet my needs.  Instead, I was able to incorporate some of my favorite elements from each structure and create my own.

See below for a sneak peak of the solution for the Althea Hurst scrapbook.

Before Treatment, housed in acidic “vinyl” sleeves:

THE PRESERVATION LAB: A collaboration between the University of Cincinnati and the Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County Object Institution & Library: PLCH CALL #: 977.178092 ffH966Zh 1938 SUBJECT: Althea Hurst scrapbook, 1938 - documents the journey of four Cincinnati school teachers - took a trip to Canada, Nortern Europe, Germany, Eastern Europe, and France. Scrapbook filled with photographs, brochures, notes and other ephemera. DATABASE ID: 1015 ITEM #: i83079427 TREATMENT ID: LIGHTING: EcoSmart 27-Watt (100W) Full Spectrum Craft CFL Fluorescent with sock diffusers FILTER(s): none COMMENTS: CREATOR: Jessica Ebert WEBSITE: thepreservationlab.org

THE PRESERVATION LAB: A collaboration between the University of Cincinnati and the Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County Object Institution & Library: PLCH CALL #: 977.178092 ffH966Zh 1938 SUBJECT: Althea Hurst scrapbook, 1938 - documents the journey of four Cincinnati school teachers - took a trip to Canada, Nortern Europe, Germany, Eastern Europe, and France. Scrapbook filled with photographs, brochures, notes and other ephemera. DATABASE ID: 1015 ITEM #: i83079427 TREATMENT ID: LIGHTING: EcoSmart 27-Watt (100W) Full Spectrum Craft CFL Fluorescent with sock diffusers FILTER(s): none COMMENTS: CREATOR: Jessica Ebert WEBSITE: thepreservationlab.org

After Treatment:

THE PRESERVATION LAB: A collaboration between the University of Cincinnati and the Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County Object Institution & Library: PLCH CALL #: 977.178092 ffH966Zh 1938 SUBJECT: Althea Hurst scrapbook, 1938 - documents the journey of four Cincinnati school teachers - took a trip to Canada, Nortern Europe, Germany, Eastern Europe, and France. Scrapbook filled with photographs, brochures, notes and other ephemera. DATABASE ID: 1015 ITEM #: i83079427 TREATMENT ID: LIGHTING: EcoSmart 27-Watt (100W) Full Spectrum Craft CFL Fluorescent with sock diffusers FILTER(s): none COMMENTS: CREATOR: Jessica Ebert WEBSITE: thepreservationlab.org

THE PRESERVATION LAB: A collaboration between the University of Cincinnati and the Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County Object Institution & Library: PLCH CALL #: 977.178092 ffH966Zh 1938 SUBJECT: Althea Hurst scrapbook, 1938 - documents the journey of four Cincinnati school teachers - took a trip to Canada, Nortern Europe, Germany, Eastern Europe, and France. Scrapbook filled with photographs, brochures, notes and other ephemera. DATABASE ID: 1015 ITEM #: i83079427 TREATMENT ID: LIGHTING: EcoSmart 27-Watt (100W) Full Spectrum Craft CFL Fluorescent with sock diffusers FILTER(s): none COMMENTS: CREATOR: Jessica Ebert WEBSITE: thepreservationlab.org

The next hurdle to jump:

How do I encapsulate a scrapbook that houses a variety of adhered material, such as pamphlets, postcards, letters, maps, and more, and still make the parts accessible?!  See the upcoming Polyester Encapsulated Page Bindings, Part Two.

Resources:

Ashleigh Schieszer (PLCH) — Conservator, Conservation Lab Manager

Preservation Week Fun!

One of the things I love most about working here in the Lab is that’s like the proverbial shark: always moving. We’re constantly learning and growing and trying new things; it’s great! We do, however, reside rather off the beaten path in the library, so it often happens that unless people have to come down for a specific purpose, they never know what we’re up to now.

Enter the annual Open House. You would think that after so many years, it would be pretty rank and file, but we’ve managed to keep the fun. This year, in addition to learning a few new things about the lab’s treatment reports on the UC Libraries’ Digital Collections & Repositories site and the hot stamper bookmarks that everyone has come to know and love, we focused on papermaking, highlighted by the opportunity to pull a piece of their very own.  Holly and Catarina walked our guests through the process, to great (and messy) results. People love the opportunity to mix it up and put their hands in things, and I would definitely call it a success.  On top of that, our conservator, Ashleigh, displayed an array of different types of paper and plant fibers that are used to make paper, and she demonstrated and discussed the different ways in which we use paper in the lab (mends, pulps fills, etc.). It was such a good time that I’m not sure how we’ll top it next year. No doubt there’ll be something fascinating going on. Stay tuned!

Jessica talking about the Preservation Lab's DRC and how/why we are sharing our treatment reports with researchers, patrons, and other conservation professionals.

Jessica talking about the Preservation Lab’s DRC and how/why we are sharing our treatment reports with researchers, patrons, and other conservation professionals.

Holly discussing the papermaking process and the different problems that can occur such as "papermaker's tears" and air bubbles during couching.

Holly discussing the papermaking process and the different problems that can occur such as “papermaker’s tears” and air bubbles during couching.

Catarina helping a visiting staff members couch her sheet of paper.

Catarina helping a visiting staff members couch her sheet of paper.

Ashleigh talking about paper sizing.

Ashleigh explaining paper sizing and why it’s done.

Book models and examples of paste paper.

Book models and examples of paste paper.

Hyacinth Tucker (UCL) — Binding Processor

A Simple Solution for Lantern Slides

This October the Preservation Lab arranged for staff training in photograph conservation with an expert in this specialty to help us address specific needs for the two institutions.  The lab hosted a 3-day workshop taught by Photograph Conservator, Tom Edmondson.  Lab staff and two other local paper and book conservators attended.  We were taught how to identify more than 16 types of historic photographic processes.  We learned how to safely preserve and store a variety of formats, including daguerreotypes and lantern slides. Using actual historical photographs as learning opportunities we were taught basic and advanced treatment techniques such as surface cleaning photographs, washing, removing linings, flattening creases, and matting.  The technicians have already begun to implement the knowledge gleaned from the workshop in the treatment of some Public Library lantern slides.

For example, with the lantern slide below the losses on the glass were filled with Vivak in order to prevent further damage.  Vivak, a clear thermoplastic sheet, was chosen since it is archival, looks similar to glass and is an easy material to cut and shape without losing its structural integrity.The Vivak was precisely cut and placed onto the missing areas.

The Vivak was precisely cut and placed onto the missing areas.

Collage3

Detailed images of the Vivak fills. Verso and recto pieces were secured together with a strip of Filmoplast R.

To attach the recto and verso of the Vivak fill pieces to each other, a strip of Filmoplast R was used around the edges. Filmoplast R, a cellulose tissue coated with an acid and solvent free heat-activated adhesive, was toned with Golden fluid acrylics to match the original paper strip around the edges of the lantern slide.

To protect the edges of the lantern slide, and to secure the filled areas in place, a strip of Mylar (polyester film) was placed along the edges and secured with a small piece of Filmoplast R.

The strip of Mylar around the edges of the lantern slide will also work as a barrier between the edges of the original object and Filmoplast R adhesive.

The strip of Mylar around the edges of the lantern slide will also work as a barrier between the edges of the original object and Filmoplast R adhesive.

Finally, the lantern slide was sandwiched between two pieces of Vivak and secured with a strip of toned Filmoplast R by wrapping it around the edges.Collage2

With another lantern slide, the original plastic coated paper strip around the glass plates was lifting and detaching from the glass.Collage4

The detached black strip was mended and adhered in place with the heat activated adhesive BEVA film 371, and a tacking iron.Collage6

Since this lantern slide was not broken and the paper was mended, there was no need to sandwich the lantern slide between pieces of Vivak.

Since this lantern slide was not broken and the paper was mended, there was no need to sandwich the lantern slide between pieces of Vivak.

This project was a great opportunity to learn and work with different materials.

 

Ashleigh Schieszer (PLCH) — Book and Paper Conservator, Author

Catarina Figueirinhas (UCL) — Sr. Conservation Technician, Author & Photographer

Jessica Ebert (UCL) — Conservation Technician, Photographer

Loopy

THE PRESERVATION LAB: A collaboration between the University of Cincinnati and the Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County Object Institution & Library: PLCH CALL #: 529.43 F855 SUBJECT: Freeman's Almanacks from 1823-1829, all side sewn, some with threaded loops at top (to hook onto a nail in a wall), varying sizes, some missing covers, all received dirty/stained and torn edges DATABASE ID: 1124 ITEM #: i28069493 TREATMENT ID: LIGHTING: EcoSmart 27-Watt (100W) Full Spectrum Craft CFL Fluorescent with sock diffusers + reflector and foam board FILTER(s): none COMMENTS: CREATOR: Jessica Ebert WEBSITE: thepreservationlab.orgSome small booklets from the 1820s recently came to the Lab to be cleaned and prepared for digitization at the Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County. Ashleigh, our Conservator, noticed a couple of them had a small loop of string attached in the upper left hand corner.

WhatTheHeck

Well, the booklets are all copies of “Freeman’s Almanack”. Before the days of smart phone calendars and weather apps, before the days of catching the weather on the radio or TV, people had almanacs. In fact some people still use them today, though these days their scope has expanded and some of them can be many hundreds of pages, depending on the information they contain. Back in the 1800s they usually looked like small magazines. Published yearly, they contained articles and snippets of wit and wisdom the publishers thought their target audience (often farmers) might enjoy. Most important though were the tables, usually organized to represent a calendar month, giving times for sunrise and sunset, astronomical highlights such as eclipses, church festivals, planting dates, and what kind of weather to expect.

So what about the loops?

Well, the almanac would be something a 19th Century family might refer to often, perhaps even daily. Where do you put such a thing in your home so everyone can grab it quickly when they need it? You hang it on a nail of course! How do you do that? You make a little hole in the top left corner of the booklet, you run some string or thread through the hole to make a loop, and you pop the loop over the nail.

LoopyFrontoBack

Problem (and mystery) solved!

Veronica Sorcher (PLCH) – Conservation Technician

Prepping for a Shift

Stack shifts and moves are an inevitability in libraries.  Collections change.  Spaces change, more often than not becoming too small for the collection(s).  And in the end a shift of collections is imminent.  For most collections these stack shifts do not require the intervention of a conservation lab.  Periodical bindings moving to another floor?  It happens all the time and that’s that.  But when special collection items are shifted or moved, the Preservation Lab generally plays a part.  So when UC’s Archives and Rare Books Library decided to move and shift the bulk of their oversized special collections between stack levels the Lab was contacted to play a part in the prep work.

The plan? To measure and box as many unstable or unwieldy oversized books that will be moving between floors or shifting within narrow, restrictive shelving stacks before the move in April.  In order to keep our current workflow of treatments (both general circulating and special collections) for both institutions going, it was decided that a couple of lab staff would measure the books on-site (ARB Library), have corrugated enclosures created through our commercial bindery vendor, and then as the boxes were received the staff would match up the books with the boxes.  Three staff members, Holly Prochaska (librarian), Veronica Sorcher (technician), and myself, took on the duty of assessing the books and taking measurements for those we felt could easily hinder the move or be damaged further by handling and moving.

MeasuringSetup

Measuring in the stacks and making do with the space you have.

At this point we are about half way through the process.  We’ve measured over 750 books for enclosures!  We enlisted one of our trusty student assistants to record all the data so that we could send it off to the commercial binder.  The first batch of 150 boxes arrived and were matched up with the books earlier this week.  And luckily, our error rate was actually very low, even with that first batch where we were still figuring out the kinks of measuring in confined spaces and often dim lighting!

What’s the workflow like?  Each person has list of numbers that correspond to the number the binder prints on the inside of the enclosure, per our request.  For each number, the staff member records the call number (to be printed on the spine of the box), along with the height, width and thickness of the book.  A flag with that number written on it (in pencil, of course) is then placed in the book so that it is visible on the shelf and clearly recognizable when matching the boxes to the books.  So far, the process has worked pretty well.

What kinds of things are we prepping for storage and handling?  Prime candidates for move-prep housing include…

  • Any book previously tied with cotton tying tape, usually to hold a detached/loose board or textblock in place.

    In this case, boards were detached from the spine/textblock. But let’s just talk about the reason I really took a photo of this book on Christopher Columbus…the anchor clasps and catches! How cool are those?

    In this case, boards were detached from the spine/textblock. But let’s just talk about the reason I really took a photo of this book on Christopher Columbus…the anchor clasps and catches! How cool are those?

  • Any book with loose, detached, or protruding parts that could be abraded, damaged further, or lost during the move.

    When I originally pulled this book off the shelf the measure it the corner was nowhere to be found, but I found it a couple shelves down resting on top of another book.

    When I originally pulled this book off the shelf the measure it the corner was nowhere to be found, but I found it a couple shelves down resting on top of another book.

  • Any extremely fragile or flimsy books, including extremely oversized, thin bindings or bindings with fragile paper or degraded leather covers.

    This full leather binding must have been fire damaged at some point. The leather on the spine was so fragile and would crack and break if you looked at it the wrong way.

    This full leather binding must have been fire damaged at some point. The leather on the spine was so fragile and would crack and break if you looked at it the wrong way.

  • The evil monster known as RED ROT!

    RedRot_2

    Obviously not all books with red rot were boxed, especially those with very minor cases. But books like this, where the movers and every book in the surrounding area would be covered in a red layer of degraded leather…those get boxes!

If you’re interested in seeing more snapshots from our adventures of measuring in ARB, check out the Preservation Lab’s Instagram, here.

Jessica Ebert (UCL) – Conservation Technician