Tag Archives: surface cleaning


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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The Stereoscope

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.

Cool huh?

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Surface cleaning — this is how we do it!

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!preser_blog

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