Tag Archives: Classics Library

Slipcase Race

One of the Lab’s big projects recently has been to help the University of Cincinnati’s Classics Library with preparations for a move of a large section of their collection’s rare books. Moves like this are a great opportunity to assess the condition of a collection, and to provide enclosures for more vulnerable materials so they are protected in transit and beyond. In this particular case the Librarian also requested the lab maintain visibility of the original books as much as possible.

There are quite a few vellum books in the Classics Library collection. Vellum bindings are generally pretty sturdy, but may become brittle over time. They can also expand and contract quite a bit more than other types of bindings, depending on the relative humidity where they are stored. The Image Permanence Institute at the Rochester Institute of Technology has a fun time-lapse video demonstrating this effect – the book looks as if it’s haunted! Given time this expansion and contraction can cause distortion.

Hard-sided slipcases do make it possible to protect most of a book while keeping its spine decoration and information visible, but they are not generally a preservation go-to. They can abrade the edges and covers when pulling the book in and out, and they don’t usually hold up over time because it can be difficult to insert fingers around the book to pull it out if the case is tight, resulting in a broken box or, alternatively, damaged endcaps.

A soft-sided slipcase can work well for vellum-bound books. The vellum is smooth, so abrasion is not a concern. The flexible sides give a little when reaching fingers in to remove a book, so the box won’t eventually fail and there is no need to grab the book from its endcap, damaging it. The cloth allows the book to breathe and flex somewhat, while at the same time preventing it from expanding too far at the fore edge, and squeezing its neighbors.

With a deadline looming we needed to figure out a way to produce soft-sided slipcases quickly and easily. Our solution was to create a template in an Excel spreadsheet, allowing us to simply plug in the book’s measurements and know exactly what size to cut the cloth and where the creases need to be, without needing to have the book handy.

We measured several books where they were, then took the measurements back to the Lab, where we used the spreadsheet to make a handful of slipcases. I was holding my breath when the time came to unite them with their books. Much to my relief  they fit perfectly!

Check out this picture showing 4 vellum books – the one on the left was already housed in a hard-sided, cloth-covered, board slipcase, while the 3 on the right are in the brand new soft-sided cloth slipcases. The books are protected, but the spines are still visible. Win, win.

Now that we know it works it’s time to go ahead and make the rest of them!

Veronica Sorcher (PLCH) – Conservation Technician

 

NEW! Preservation Lab Channel on UCL MediaSpace

The Preservation Lab now has its own channel on the UC Libraries MediaSpace, a YouTube-like media platform powered by Kaltura!  You can find the Lab’s channel, here.

We currently have 8 videos on the MediaSpace, most of which relate to RTI.  But I recently created this fun little time-lapse video of sewing conservation endbands on a Classics collection item.  (If you enjoy twangy bluegrass music, then make sure to turn your volume up!)

Stay tuned for future videos from the Lab!

Jessica Ebert (UCL) – Conservation Technician

18th Century Poetry Pamphlets

This past April, during one of the UCL Special Collections meetings, the Lab received a new stabilization/housing project; a collection of Latin poetry pamphlets translated into German from 1830-1917.  This collection of 79 volumes is part of the Classics Library’s collection.  While the Lab will be treating and housing all 79 volumes, the collection is being brought to the Lab in small, manageable batches. The first batch received by the Lab were pamphlets bd.66 to pamphlets bd.79.

 

After consulting with the Lab’s conservator, each pamphlet was evaluated and treated individually. The condition of each pamphlet greatly varied; some pamphlets were in good condition, with only small tears along the outer joints of the paper cover. Other pamphlets were in poor condition, with missing covers, detached covers, split textblocks, torn or missing covers.

After the first batch of pamphlets was evaluated and treated, four stabilization treatment types were established for future batches.  According to the condition of the pamphlet, from good condition, fair condition, poor condition, to severe condition, each pamphlet received either no treatment, a minimal treatment, a minor treatment, a major treatment with stabilization though encapsulation, respectively. For future batches received by the Lab, the same treatments will be applied with small variations when needed.

 No treatmentFor any pamphlets in good condition do not require treatment, these pamphlets will simply be surface cleaned and receive a polyester film jacket.

Each image below shows an example of the treatments mentioned above.  Click on the photo to view the full size image:

 Fair condition/ minimal treatment: This group of pamphlets were in fair condition. There were minor tears on the cover that were mended.

Poor condition/minor treatment: This pamphlet was in poor condition. The  cover was torn and detached and the textblock was broken with loose gatherings.  The cover was mended and the textblock was repaired. The cover was reattached to the textblock.

Severe condition/ Major treatment – stabilization through encapsulation: This pamphlet was received in severe condition. The covers were detached from the textblock and showed major losses. The textblock was stapled and the staples had corroded overtime which stained the paper. The staples were removed and the textblock was sewn. The covers were encapsulated and sewn onto the textblock using Usu Mino tissue hinges.

Once the treatment of the first batch of pamphlets was concluded, the pamphlets were housed together in a custom made corrugated clamshell box with a clear spine. This model of a modified corrugated clamshell box will be used for the future batches of these pamphlets that the lab receives from the Classics Library.

Modified corrugated clamshell box with a clear spine.

Modified corrugated clamshell box with a clear spine.

At the moment, I am working on the second batch of pamphlets; pamphlet bd. 50-bd. 65. On this second batch most pamphlets are in poor condition. The covers are detached and some pamphlets have missing covers. However, the textblocks are in good condition.  Below you will find a sneak peak of this ongoing treatment.

Pamphlets bd. 43 – 49 – small portion of the second batch of pamphlets received by the Lab.

Catarina Figueirinhas (UCL) — Sr. Conservation Technician

Photographic Documentation:  Jessica Ebert (UCL) — Conservation Technician