The Preservation Lab offers a suite of services to our parent institutions, including conservation, storage and handling, pest management, and environmental monitoring. Recently we got to flex both our physical and mental muscles, assisting the Public Library with a special collections move. While there were many interesting objects that required special attention during the relocation, a collection of locally and historically significant oversized posters presented a fun and exciting challenge.
The posters, which averaged 60”x96”, were in very good condition, protected by a polyester film encapsulation, and stored flat. Though their sheer size made them inherently fragile, we were fortunate to be starting under good conditions. The complication was how to transport them safely through a long circuitous route, with thin aisles and hairpin turns.
Our conservator, Ashleigh Schieszer, devised a procedure of draping the posters over large map tubes. Because the posters were taped to the inside of the polyester film this processes had several benefits, including decreasing the potential for creasing the polyester film and/or paper, providing abundant support during transport, and reducing the footprint of the sheets. First we laid the posters flat on a large table, stacking them 6 high with the largest posters on the bottom. We then placed a tube at each end of the posters, one at the head and one at the tail, and gently wrapped the posters around the tubes, keeping the bend of the polyester film gradual and fairly loose. The tubes rolling inside the parcels provided the needed support to the posters while reducing the likelihood of creasing or folding the objects. Once both ends were gradually wrapped around the tubes, about a third of the way in on either end, we were ready to begin lifting the items.
To lift the parcels, the two tubes were brought together gently but firmly so as to ensure that the posters would not slip off the tubes due to their weight and the pesky force of gravity. This long narrow bundle of posters was now approximately 1/6 the size, protected at the head and tail by the extra length of the map tube, and easily maneuverable with a concerted effort of ducks and weaves!
We then made the long journey to the new secured location with two teams of movers and one helper holding the doors, calling the elevators, and of course photo documenting our progress!
The posters moved to improved conditions in their new home, having flat storage that better matches their size and shape. Once we decided on the process, we made quick work of the project moving approximately 80 posters in 4 hours. It was a great team effort between the Preservation Lab staff and our colleagues at the PLCH Main Library.
Holly Prochaska (UCL) and Ashleigh Schieszer (PLCH), with expert editing from Jessica Ebert who harkened back to 6th grade English class on how to write an instruction essay!