Tuesday, July 22, 2008

From the Preservation Lab

With local farmers' markets in full swing, I thought it would be timely to take a peek at the Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources documents in the State Library's collection. I found that over the years the department has issued many brochures and pamphlets regarding numerous aspects of agriculture. Focusing on documents relating to farmer's markets and pick-your-own farms, I found that many of the items were in good to great condition, but were not housed in archival materials.

Many reports from the late 1970s through the 1980s were housed in plastic document folders as pictured above. While these folders have kept the pages inside clean and wrinkle-free, the plastic has already started to degrade which can impact the paper documents. In lieu of a plastic folder the documents will be housed in acid-free folders and envelopes which will provide more protection and support for these unbound documents over time.

The Department of Agricultural Resources also publishes many guides for residents of the Commonwealth that are smaller than typical items in the library's collection. For instance, while the two documents below are similar to a standard book in height, neither is more than four inches wide or more than a quarter of an inch thick.

Items this thin and small can get lost among larger items on the shelf. To help combat this problem these documents will each be housed in a larger acid-free envelope. The envelope will protect these items from loss and from any dust or pollutants in the air.

For more information about local farmer's markets head over to the MassGrown website where you can find markets and farms in your area of the state. If you're planning a trip to the State Library, don't forget that every Monday and Wednesday through November 26th you can head down to the City Hall Plaza market after you've finished at the library.

- Lacy Crews, Preservation Assistant