Tuesday, September 9, 2008

From the Preservation Lab

In preparation for our new exhibit on Plymouth opening in October, members of Special Collections, Reference and Technical Services have been pulling library materials to be considered for inclusion in the exhibit. During this process items in need of repair have been found, such as two maps of the Plymouth area from the 1800s. While these maps were not chosen to be included in the exhibit, they were quickly routed to preservation for some repair work prior to reshelving.

The first map repaired, pictured at left, depicts Plymouth Harbor and was printed in 1857. This map had numerous rips along all of the edges, two torn pieces that created holes along the top edge and two areas of paper loss along the bottom edge. The rips along the edges and the holes along the top were repaired with archival document repair tape, a material similar to regular pressure-sensitive tape, but that is acid and lignin-free and should remain stable over time. Where there was paper loss along the bottom edge, acid-free archival quality paper was used to stabilize the document. Below is a close up of the stabilization of the lower left corner of the map. (Click any image to enlarge).

The second map routed to preservation was a map of New England published in 1828. Unlike the Plymouth Harbor map, this map was fairly stable along the edges, having been repaired previously (40 to 60 years ago from my estimate). Instead, this map needed a good cleaning along the bottom edge of one piece and needed to be housed in a map folder to protect it while shelved.

The map was cleaned using a dry sponge made of a rubber-like material that lifts and traps dirt. A small puncture hole was repaired in the lower right corner using acid-free archival paper and archival document repair tape. Once these repairs were made, a new map folder was labeled with the call number information and the map was ready to be reshelved.

While items arrive in the preservation lab through many channels, it is important to the library that we incorporate preservation check points to work flows where possible. For the Plymouth exhibit all items included in the display will first be assessed for any preservation issues that may arise from being on display for several months. Repairs will be made where needed, systems to support items during display will be fabricated and facsimiles will be created when the item is decided to be too fragile for display. Additionally all items pulled during the planning process, but that we decided would not be in the final exhibit, will be assessed for preservation needs before the items are returned to the shelf. For this exhibit about 40 items will be assessed for inclusion in the exhibit and about 35 items will be assessed before they are routed back to the stacks. Though not all items will need repair, adding this preservation check point to the exhibit preparations allows repairs to be made where needed and works to further the library's mission goal of preservation and conservation of library collections.

Stay tuned to the library blog for more information about the Plymouth exhibit over the coming weeks.

-- Lacy Crews, Preservation Assistant