Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Putting the "P" in Preservation

When I encountered this document on the shelf of the Massachusetts Room in the State Library, the true value of this preservation project become clear. The Mass. Labor Relations Commission Report from the 1940s documents decisions made regarding the treatment of union workers in Massachusetts during the Great Depression.

As you can see in the photograph, the document was held together with a cloth ribbon. The document itself resided in a thick stock file folder that had definitely seen better days.

As soon as I untied the cloth ribbon, the front cover of the folder fell off, as it had become increasingly brittle over the past 70 years! Needless to say this document was crying out for some attention and a new enclosure.

Before I could create a new folder, I had to unfold the tissue paper thin document that had been placed on top of a second document.

After both documents were laid flat, I then created a new folder from archival quality acid free paper stock to better support the items. These materials were both over-sized, that is larger than 8 1/2 by 11 inches. I placed the documents on top of an over-sized folder and then marked where I would cut the folder to better line up with the margins of the documents. You can see the markings on the bottom right corner of the image on the left.

After using the paper cutter to ensure even and level cuts, the items were ready to be placed in their new folder. The new folder housing the items then goes into a large envelope, also made from archival quality acid free paper.

This item was not yet entered into the library's online catalog and so, I cut out the original folder (remember the one that had fallen apart) that contained the author and call number information and paper clipped it to the new envelope and set the entire package aside to be sent to the cataloging department.

From the moment I take the item off the shelf and begin to plan how best to preserve it, I spend at least five minutes with each item. It's far too easy to rush the treatment process, but having encountered this tricky item I certainly appreciate how important it is to be careful and thorough.

And as you can see from the image of the final product- the effort is well worth it!

- Lori Satter, Preservation Intern