Pat Schmude’s leather-bound “Zombies,” made with techniques learned from bookbinder and conservator Jeff Peachey during a 2013 workshop at the Lab on Eigteenth-Century French Bookbinding.“The Red Door” is a piece Pat worked on over many years, adding a detail here and there when the inspiration came to him. All of us at the Lab fell in love with it. Don’t you just want to walk through that door and see what new world it takes you to? Jessica Ebert’s “Curiosities Behind Glass” shows off the carousel form we learned during our December “fun day” to great effect. Ashleigh’s “Study of Impermanence of Early Contact Printing Photography” is research and binding skill rolled into one!She also saved neat old spine linings she had to remove during treatments over her years as a student worker and turned them into a nifty and whimsical documentary for “Spines.” My own wee accordion book, “Wholehearted” uses techniques I learned for toning paper for treatments.
If you’re in the area check out the show in the Atrium at the Public Library’s Main Branch. It’s up from June 10th to September 6th, 2015.
Last month our lab hosted a little workshop, taught by talented conservation technician, Chris Voynovich (PLCH), on collapsible book cradles. The workshop came about after our conservator shared images of Elizabeth Rideout’s collapsible book cradle with us and explained how beneficial this would be for the special collections holding libraries to have cradles like this on hand. Chris, who is usually the go-to technician in the lab for tricky enclosures, jumped at the opportunity to create a cradle. So without any instructions available he made a collapsible, adjustable cradle based on the images of Rideout’s cradle online. Chris then wrote up some instructions for a standard size cradle that fits most books. With the instructions on hand we went ahead and planned the workshop, inviting colleagues from both UCL and PLCH.
Chris explaining the collapsible cradle and how it works.
The Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County has a wonderful collection of materials about the use of the Ohio and Mississippi rivers known as the Inland Rivers Collection. Recently a group of photographs with accompanying film negatives from this collection came to the Lab.
What for? Well, film has been made using different chemicals over the years, some of which are very unstable. The Lab’s task was to divide and house the entire grouping according to film type. Special attention was given to identifying any cellulose nitrate negatives and isolating them in separate storage housing with the recommendation they be digitized and then disposed of in accordance with Ohio’s guidelines for discarding hazardous materials.
Cellulose nitrate film was the first widely used flexible plastic film. In the late nineteenth century it supplanted heavy, fragile glass plates. Great! Except nitrate is also a chemical component in gunpowder. As cellulose nitrate film degrades it goes through several distinct stages, beginning with silver mirroring and yellowing. Then it may become sticky and smelly (nitric acid odor). Gradually the negative changes to an amber color with the image beginning to fade. Eventually the negative can soften to a point where it may stick to adjacent pictures or its enclosure. In the final stage it turns to a brown acidic powder. As deterioration progresses it accelerates and in the last stages the film may begin to generate its own heat and ignite. A cellulose nitrate fire doesn’t need oxygen to burn so most of the usual firefighting methods won’t put it out. Any grouping of cellulose nitrate film increases the risk. Reels of motion picture film contained in metal canisters concentrate the off-gassing and accelerate the deterioration process.
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.
Several times a semester UCL’s Reference and Instructional Services department hosts 1st Fridays @4, a fun activity (with food!) that engages and educates students/patrons. When Pam Bach, the lead coordinator of 1st Fridays, asked the Preservation Lab if we would be interested instructing a simple, fun bookbinding workshop we jumped on the opportunity. Being in the basement of the library can be a bit isolating, so any chance we get to interact with the students and patrons is very appealing to us. We decided to show the participants how to make an adhesive-bound miniature book with a paper case. We chose this because it would be easy for people new to bookbinding to construct, we had all the supplies we needed to prep for the workshop, and we already had a little experience prepping and teaching the structure since we made these cute little books during our student and volunteer fun day in November.
Our student assistants and volunteers are a dedicated, hardworking group of individuals and they are invaluable to the Lab. They are constantly learning new treatments, expanding their preservation knowledge, and helping our Lab move forward and treat general collection items. For the students, this means they do all this while going to school full-time at the University of Cincinnati. So, every year we like to pick a day or two around the holidays to celebrate our students and volunteers and say “thank you” by treating them to a little bit of preservation-related fun. We appropriately call these our “student/volunteer fun days”.
We always pick an activity that will be enjoyable for the students/volunteers, but also benefit the Lab in some way. In the past this has included paste paper and paper marbling. For both we asked everyone to donate a portion of their papers to the Lab for our supply. This year for “fun day” we decided to demonstrate and create a selection of book structures with the idea that the people could expand their conservation skills and learn new techniques, and afterward the Lab would have a selection of models of the various structures.
One of the best parts of the formation of our joint lab was the addition of a full time conservator. The University of Cincinnati lab had been performing a variety of conservation repairs or mends on general collection items for years. Tip-ins, tears, tape removal, sewing and spine repairs were all familiar types of mending to those of us who had been working in the existing UC lab. But when our joint lab began and our new conservator, Kathy Lechuga, started we quickly began to see that not all our repairs or mends were up to par. Kathy had a vast knowledge of conservation, including best practices that were more up-to-date. Even straight forward repairs like spine repairs (or re-backs) that haven’t changed much in the last 30 years needed some minor tweaking. But one repair stuck out as needing a major update, a paper hinge repair we had been doing for years and years.
One of the (many) great things about our collaboration, and the State Library of Ohio grant that funded our collaborative lab, was being able to purchase new equipment and supplies. With grant funds, the lab purchased an additional board shear, a humidification/suction table, a ductless fume-hood, additional map cases to store paper and many other wonderful things. But there were certain unique and very specific items that we couldn’t find through outside vendor s, and that’s when UC’s talented group of carpenters came to our aid. The UC carpenters were essential when it came to renovating our existing lab, adding a second bench area for the conservator and two conservation technicians, and a second sink by the new work benches. But one of the most massive and impressive contraptions they constructed was multi-compartment structure to hold binders board, corrugated board, foam, and other various odds and ends. It’s mammoth, sturdy and expertly crafted. And more importantly offers an excellent storage solution to some of the new supplies we were ordering.
Yet, after the first year of our new created collaborative lab there was still one area where we still need some organization help…bookcloth and buckram storage. For ages we had been storing our bookcloth and buckram in an oversized laminate bin.
Imagine this but jammed full of three times the cloth and buckram.