Are you the type of person who when Spring rolls around you get this sudden urge to organize and clean? No? Well, I am. Though I will admit it only comes in short bursts. Maybe there is just something about the change of seasons that makes me want to sort through things; this Spring I decided to tackle our stockpile of matboard. Does my sudden urge to clean and organize really have anything to do with the vernal eqinox? No, probably not. It is more likely due to the fact that we recently order a bunch of new Rising board and it has been sitting around for a couple weeks with no place to go. Enter, Jessica and her fit of cleaning.
In our department we have a large table at the front (though we usually call it the “back”) between our freezer and large sink. On either side we have storage below for different types of board, matboard on one side and our secondary supply of Davey board on the other. I started my little project, with pH pen in hand, by sorting through all the matboard. I divided it onto two book trucks, one of acidic board and small scraps we cannot use and another truck of neutral, usable board (which shows up purple with pH pen). Once all the board was sorted and removed, I vacuumed the entire area to get rid of all the dust and miscellaneous mystery particles.
There were three separate parcels of board that had been wrapped in acidic paper (from the original vendor) for probably a decade or two easily. Since they had stayed wrapped for so long the edges of the board were acidic but the interior portion of the board was fine.
As you can see above, the pH indicated how much of the board had become acidic. Using the pH pen I tested each board and trimmed off the acidic, unusable portion and saved the rest. This is a nice illustration of why it is best to remove items from their inexpensive paper/board packaging, because even if they are not acidic now they can become acidic over time and that can migrate to your supplies.
Once everything was sorted, the area cleaned, and the partly acidic board trimmed I went about organizing the new and old neutral matboard. I also saved any large sheets of the acidic board to use for practicing or making temporary cradles, but I made sure to label them appropriately so that they would not get mixed in with the good matboard.
Ta-da! I got rid of unusable scraps and made room for all our new matboard. There’s even space for any future matboard we decide to purchase. I’d say my efforts paid off. Not too bad for a morning’s work and a couple of paper/board cuts on my fingers.
Jessica Ebert (UCL) — Conservation Technician