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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.


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.


Problem (and mystery) solved!

Veronica Sorcher (PLCH) – Conservation Technician

Mounting a Microscopic Book

One of the treasures I was recently asked to prepare for display was a book called The Smallest Book in the World. The library owns two copies printed by German typographer, Josua Reichert. The tiny book contains typography that was uniquely designed specifically for the binding. Each page contains a CMYK colored alphabet letter in an exquisitely designed font. While not currently the smallest book in the world, it is probably the smallest traditionally printed edition!

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Paper making in the lab

In April the Provost Office awarded the lab funds to purchase paper making equipment through the Third Century Faculty Research Materials Grant.  Over the next six months the lab intends to establish a workflow for paper making so that we may begin producing our own archival quality papers for conservation treatments.  With the grant monies we purchased a Hollander beater in July, and yesterday the other pivotal piece of equipment arrived, a hydraulic press.  The beater masticates fibers, that with water, create a fiber slurry that is poured into a mould.  Each mould forms a single sheet of paper that is then pressed to remove the excess water –  further bonding the fibers and creating a smooth surface.

More information as we begin our experimentation!

Beater on cart

hydraulic press

Our hydraulic press was made specifically for the lab by our amazing UC carpenters

Holly Prochaska (UC) — Preservation Librarian

We love artists’ books: the finished boxes!

You may recall that back in July I blogged about these two beauties that came to the Lab for custom enclosures.  They both returned to PLCH at the beginning of September in their custom enclosures, so I thought I’d share what type of enclosures we came up with to address all the fragile elements of these particular artists’ books. Continue reading


If you read our last blog post you know all about the Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County’s collection of music scores we’re working on here at the Lab. Check out the frankenscores we received in the latest batch – just in time for Halloween!

Music score repairClearly some previous owners worked hard to bring these back to life!

Veronica Sorcher (PLCH) — Conservation Technician


The Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County has recently set a plan in motion to digitize a collection of music scores. But before they can be digitized, the scores need to cataloged at the item level so metadata can be added to the digital files that are uploaded to the Virtual Public Library. But first, they are traveling to the lab to receive stabilization, to improve legibility, and rehousing. There are more than 200 boxes in the collection, each containing fifty or more scores, so this will be an ongoing project for many months to come. Because there are so many, and the Library would like to have them digitized as soon as possible, the decision was made to keep the treatments minimal –enough to stabilize the materials and render them more legible but no more.

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We love artists’ books!

While all the books, documents, and objects that we receive in the lab are interesting and exciting, artists’ books are definitely a crowd favorite, especially amongst the technicians. When Holly and Ashleigh come back from the PLCH rare books meeting and announce they’ve brought back some artists’ book we all get a little excited and know that there are probably some fun cloth covered clamshell boxes in our future. Last week when the techs met with Ashleigh, our conservator, to discuss upcoming projects there was quite a bit of oohing and ahhing when she unwrapped and assembled the two artists’ book they had brought back to the Lab for enclosures.

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Preservation Scholarship/Grant Opportunities

FYI for our colleagues:  There are two exciting new scholarship/grant opportunities made possible by two organizations in which many of the staff of the lab are card carrying members!

The first is the MRCG (description and text from our lab conservator, Ashleigh Schieszer)  –mrcg_logoThe Midwest Regional Conservation Guild is a 35 year old organization that connects conservation professionals together in the Midwest. Each year the Guild gets together for an annual meeting at a different location around the region. As a pre-program intern, I attended my first conference in 2008 in Kansas City where I found the group of professionals extremely fun, friendly and approachable. Conferences are always a laid back environment, partly due to the fact that it’s a much smaller group than an AIC meeting. This also makes the annual meeting a great place for Emerging Conservation Professionals to present. As a pre-program intern, I helped Heugh-Edmondson present about a KY wallpaper conservation project and nobody even booed me off the stage!

If you’re a pre-program student, current graduate student, or recent graduate and are interested in attending an MRCG annual meeting, there is now a new scholarship opportunity! The 2015 annual meeting will be held in Ann Arbor, MI at the Kelsey Museum. There will be regional lab tours at the University of Michigan, Henry Ford, and Detroit Institute of Arts in addition to the regular talks. The deadline for online submissions is July 31st. The award covers hotel room cost, registration fees, and a 1 year membership to the guild.

Check it out at

The second is the OPC (description and text from the OPC website)  –246_OPC_Logo_V2_FINAL_hires

The Ohio Preservation Council serves as a coalition of preservationists, conservators, librarians, archivists, curators, records managers, the institutions they represent, and other concerned citizens who recognize the serious threat to documentary heritage. The Council’s mission is to provide a network for preservation education and to support preservation activities within the state of Ohio. The Council believes in cooperative, state-wide efforts across geographic and professional lines are needed to meet preservation challenges.

The Ohio Preservation Council recognizes the value of professional meetings, conferences, and other educational opportunities to advance the field of preservation and provide a forum to voice the need for ongoing stewardship of our documentary heritage. When possible, the OPC shall provide financial support to individuals to develop skills, expand knowledge, and gain experience relevant to the mission and goals of the Ohio Preservation Council.  Applications are due the first Mondays in September and March.

Individuals requesting financial support must meet the following criteria:
• Working in the state of Ohio OR pursuing an advanced degree or certificate in the state of Ohio;
• Working directly in the field of preservation OR pursuing a degree or certificate within the field;
• Request is for professional development that clearly relates to preservation issues and/or preservation skills;
• Have not received financial support from the OPC Grant within 3 calendar years.

Check out the grant information and application at

Preservation Week 2015!

Demonstration CollageWe love preservation. Of course we do. And as people who love preservation, we naturally love Preservation Week! Truly, we do. We love it so much that we take to the streets and invite people over to share it with us. We were so excited that we decided to start early this year, with live technical demonstrations in the mornings leading up to the big day. We wanted people to see what we were up to, ask lots of questions, and learn more about what we do.

We showed off the past year’s work, including some excellent pieces done by our pre-program volunteer, Catarina Figueirinhas. Everyone’s favorite, the hot stamper, made a return appearance. We topped off the festivities with a raffle for a book, handmade by one of our students, and of course, cookies (we don’t have open houses for the sweets, but they are a nice bonus!).  We had such a great time with all of our friends and colleagues, and as always, we look forward to doing it again next year.

Open House Collage

Hyacinth Tucker (UCL) — Binding Processor

Preservation Exhibit

One of the perks of being on UC Libraries’ Exhibits Committee, besides working with a fantastic group of people, is being able to share and promote the interesting things we are doing here in the Lab. The most recent exhibit I curated for the committee is entitled “Preserving the Past for the Future” and showcases a variety of UCL and PLCH special collection materials that have been treated in the Lab over the last year and a half. As the conservation technician who performs the bulk of the photo documentation for the Lab, I thought sharing these “before”, “after” and often “during” photos alongside the information about the treatments would make this exhibit more visually descriptive for the public, who are primarily UC students. This exhibit, which was so beautifully brought to life by Melissa Cox Norris, director of library communications, and Amanda Jackson, former communications co-op design student, is displayed on the 5th floor of Langsam Library and the full online exhibit created by Lisa Haitz, web developer, can be viewed via LiBlog at I hope you get a chance to check it out and enjoy seeing a little bit of what we do here in the Preservation Lab.


Jessica Ebert (UCL) — Conservation Technician