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.
One of my favorite aspects of this job is learning about cool old stuff. I have just had the pleasure of becoming acquainted with stereoscopic images. In the process of surface cleaning and rehousing this project, I saw a lot of cool images and learned about the use of antique stereoscopes.
Antique stereoscopes, also known as stereopticons or stereo-viewers, were popular in the late 1800s and early 1900s. A stereoscopic viewer is a special device that helps us see 2 mounted photographs as one three dimensional image. The way it works is a stereo-view slide is inserted into the viewing device, and the person viewing looks through the device while adjusting the distance of the slide. The slide is adjusted either closer or farther from the viewer’s face until it comes into focus. The two images appear as one 3D image to us when looking through the viewer because we are seeing two perspectives merge into one – not too different from the Magic Eye books that were popular in the 90’s filled with stereograms. The two perspectives are taken with a special camera that has two lenses that mimic how we see the world through two eyes. The lenses are spaced slightly apart, roughly similar to the distance of our eyes.
Every once in a while a library receives a new book that needs a little something special. Sometimes it’s a pocket to hold an enclosed map or other added material, sometimes it’s a special box or enclosure, or sometimes it’s an extra page that needs to be tipped in. Recently the Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County received 20 copies of the book, “S” by J.J. Abrams and Doug Dorst. It’s unusual and highly visual, filled with things like postcards and news clippings, 22 in all, stuck in at different points as if someone had been reading it and had absent-mindedly left their impromptu bookmark between the pages. None of these ephemeral-seeming pieces are attached in any way. It’s a really neat interactive book, in fact I want a copy of my own, but having a book with numerous loose parts is definitely challenging as part of a library collection. The potential for the various pieces, all part of the book’s storyline, to be lost or misplaced is huge! In fact there was an outcry across the country as the book arrived and librarians saw the potential for chaos and disaster:
Many times we receive a project and when we tackle it, it turns out to be a multifaceted endeavor. These paintings turned out to be one of those cases.
Imagine a finely engraved map of London, circa 1749. The map is comprised of separate sheets that are mounted 8 across and 3 down. The 24 sheets are printed on cotton rag paper and mounted on coarsely woven linen. The map has been repaired, mounted, and framed by professional conservators. Though the conservation work was done over 20 years ago, the work is in-line with current best practices and the map has lovingly been cared for by the owners in the intervening years.
One of the ways we repair damaged materials here is surface cleaning.
This is an old catalog that I am cleaning up for future digitization. The pages are very acidic and brittle. The original will be available for patron viewing but because it is degraded so badly we will photograph each page and make it available digitally. I have to be extra careful around tears and edges that I don’t break off any of the remaining paper. There has already been a lot of damage done to the catalog from previous handling. I don’t want to cause any further damage or loss of information. Luckily, only part of the outside of the images where there is no text has been lost. Many of the pieces found and breaks in the pages can be mended with heat set tissue. So here I go!