Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Massachusetts Legislators Information

The Massachusetts General Court (State Legislature) begins its next biennial session next week. State senators and representatives will be sworn in on Wednesday, January 7th

The General Court's website should have a directory of the new legislators by next week. In the meantime, the library has paper copies listing the members of the legislature who recently were elected.

Election results are available on the Secretary of State’s webpage for the 2008 Return of Votes for the Massachusetts State Election. Organized by district, this details the candidates and vote totals for state and federal races and for statewide ballot questions.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Massachusetts Electors meet in House Chamber

Members of the 2008 electoral college met all around the country on December 15th as required by statute:

Massachusetts electors met in the House chamber with many in attendance to view this historic event. President-elect Barack Obama and Vice-President- elect Joseph Biden received the support of all twelve electors. This number is determined by the number of members of Congress in each state.

Included in State Library's Massachusetts state documents collection are the proceedings of previous Electoral Colleges.

More information on this important component to our government can be found at:

Pamela W. Schofield
Reference Department

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Murray Explores State Library Special Exhibit of the History of Plymouth

A press release from the office of Senate President Therese Murray:

For Immediate Release

Contact: Samantha Dallaire

December 10, 2008


Murray Explores State Library Special Exhibit of the History of Plymouth

(BOSTON, MA) – Senate President Therese Murray (D-Plymouth) met with State Librarian Elvernoy Johnson to explore a special exhibit currently featured in the library that examines the history of America's Hometown. The exhibit, Plymouth: People, Politics and Primary Sources is a collection of the library’s documents that trace the history and highlight the Wampanoag, the Pilgrims, and the growth of the town.

"Our town is where the Commonwealth’s story begins," said Senate President Therese Murray. "The State Library of Massachusetts has done a wonderful job giving the public a snapshot of the history of Plymouth."

In addition to early documents such as a facsimile of William Bradford's Of Plimoth Plantation and records of the colony of New Plymouth, the exhibit includes town reports, tax valuations, newspapers, maps and legislative documents relating to Plymouth from the 18th through the 20th centuries. The library also explores contemporary politics, tourism and celebrations as well as the Wampanoag experience.

The exhibit, which runs through January 23, 2009, is located at the State Library of Massachusetts in the State House and is open to the public weekdays from 9:00 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Murray was elected in March 2007 as the first female President of the Senate in Massachusetts history. From January 2003 through March 2007, she chaired the Senate Committee on Ways and Means. She is currently serving her 8th term in the Massachusetts Senate, representing the people of Bourne, Falmouth, Kingston, Pembroke, Plymouth, Plympton, Sandwich and precincts 10, 11, and 12 in the Town of Barnstable. For more information, visit ThereseMurray.com.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Massachusetts--What's in a Name?

The Commonwealth of Massachusetts has had many names. It started out as the Massachusetts Bay Colony because of the Massachusetts Bay Charter. At some point it is referred to as a Province. If you look at the top of the page in the Acts and Resolves of the Province of Massachusetts Bay, it changes from a colony to a state on August 28, 1776. Later it became a commonwealth as it is called in the Constitution. The word commonwealth was used previously as evidenced by the use of this term in “The Capitall Lawes of New England” in 1642. (Harts, Commonwealth History…) All commonwealths are states. Kentucky Pennsylvania and Virginia are also Commonwealths.

Sources include:

  • Hart, Albert Bushnell. Commonwealth History of Massachusetts

  • Secretary of State’s Massachusetts Facts: a review of the government, and symbols of the Commonwealth

  • Acts and Resolves of the Province of Massachusetts Bay

  • Massachusetts Constitution

Friday, December 5, 2008

Update: From the Preservation Lab

Over the last two weeks I have devoted a bit of time to rehousing 51 tintype portraits of Massachusetts legislators from the 1860s. Details about this project can be found in a previous post. Above are three portraits that struck me, all of unidentified legislators.

I have included a picture here of the individual four-flap enclosure I made for each tintype along with a quarter to show scale. Of the fifty-one portraits, all but one are one inch by three-quarters of an inch. The one outlier was a portrait that measures approximately one-an-a-half-inches by one-and-a-half-inches. The standard size allowed me to create the four-flaps in an assembly line fashion, cutting all 50 inside flaps at once, then all the outside flaps, then
folding and gluing all at once.

The four-flaps before processing.

A labeled four-flap with the outer envelope and tintype.

The processed enclosures in the new box, including a spacer to provide support and keep the envelopes upright.

The rehoused tintypes ready to be returned to the shelf.

- Lacy Crews, Preservation Librarian

Thursday, November 20, 2008

From the Preservation Intern

As I complete my preservation internship here in the Special Collections Department, I am most grateful for the variety of skills I gained, which involved gaining physical and intellectual control over some very fascinating documents. As I learned about the architectural history of the Mass State House, I was surprised at how political the process could be, as evidenced by a scrapbook full of newspaper clippings from 1913-1916 relating to the addition of the east and west wings. This work on a government building sparked debates on labor rights, animal cruelty, the use of materials native to Massachusetts, historic preservation of the building, and fiscal responsibility. Headlines included:

Expert Explains Why State House is Painted White”

“Construction Work on the State House Should Be Done Now WHEN MEN NEED WORK”

“Protest Against Vermont Marble”

"Beacon Hill Carried Out to Sea"

While these debates rage, architects must continue to work towards the creation of a safe, practical, and beautiful building. While most of the 1890s plans I worked on detailed the aesthetics of the Brigham Extension, I spent some time working on more practical designs. For example, the plan to the right describes the structure and placement of radiators, which is certainly an important detail for a New England building! Other plans I worked on outlined the structure of the basement for the purpose of fireproofing the building.

Still, the majority of the plans were concerned with the design of particular rooms. I went on a tour of the State House early this week, and was impressed with how lovely the building is, especially now that the Christmas decorations have started to go up. On the tour, I believe I saw the room with the portraits mentioned in an earlier post. Instead of representing the Senate Reading Room, as the plan indicated, the design looks like it reflects the current design of the Senate President’s Office. The office has been decorated for Christmas, and vintage toys were placed throughout the room. This would be a great time for those who haven't taken a tour to check it out.

I truly enjoyed my internship at the Massachusetts State Library, and would encourage anyone interested in architectural history and design, Massachusetts history, or the history of the State House to experience these documents for themselves.

-Laura Pike, Preservation Intern

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

From the Preservation Lab

This past Friday and Saturday I attended the New England Archivists' fall meeting, held in Boston. The central theme of the meeting was preservation and the discussions ranged from traditional item-level preservation to collection-level digital preservation projects. I was excited to attend the Saturday morning discussion session titled: Storage Solutions for Prints and Negatives, facilitated by Martha Mahard, a faculty member from Simmons College. As a former student of Martha's I knew that it would be a lively discussion, but as a practicing preservation librarian, I had a specific storage question I hoped to have answered during the session.

My problem was this: the library's collection of 51 tin type photographs were in need of new housing and I wanted a professional opinion on what would be an appropriate housing solution. The tin types feature portraits of Massachusetts legislators from the 1860s, one of which is pictured above. The grid on which the tin type is pictured above is a one-half inch by one-half inch grid - yes, these photographs are only one inch tall and three-quarters of an inch wide.

The tin types currently are housed in specially made Mylar envelopes that have a small pocket built inside to house the portrait. Each envelope contains one portrait and all the envelopes are contained within two archival boxes, pictured below. The Mylar envelope is nice because it allows a user to view without touching the item. However, the Mylar is held together with double-sided tape that is failing due to the curves created by folding the Mylar. As the Mylar sides pulled apart from one another, the enclosure failed, leaving the portrait free to float around the envelope and become lodged in the sticky residue of the tape.

After discussing the situation with Martha in the NEA session, I formulated a storage plan. Each tin type will receive a custom-made four flap box built out of .010 folder stock with a pH of approximately 8.5. Each of the inside flaps will be the full length of the portrait, alleviating any concern about the flap becoming lodged between the portrait and the metal frame. Once the portrait is placed inside the box, each box will be place inside an individual acid-free folder, which in turn will be placed inside a new archival box. With this plan in place I began creating a template and prototype this morning and now have a work flow for creating these boxes. Stay tuned to the blog for pictures once the tin types have been rehoused.

I must say, it's kind of fun working in miniature for a change. Each box is so tiny and I am somewhat surprised by the cuteness of the finished product. Even the lab intern volunteered to make a few boxes after she saw the prototype. With fifty-one boxes to make, I have plenty of time to enjoy the smallness of this project.

- Lacy Crews, Preservation Librarian

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

From the Preservation Intern

Today I encapsulated plan 1399, which shows the design of part of the Librarian’s room. But as it turns out, this plan is "incorrect". The design may have been put in the reject pile, but the plan itself still must be carefully preserved through cleaning and encapsulation. The plans are encapsulated in archival quality polyester film, often called by its Dupont-registered trade name, Mylar. Mylar is a clear, strong film that protects materials from dirt, oil, acids, and other pollutants, and has a life span of hundreds of years.

After a plan has been cleaned, it is ready for encapsulation, and the surface of the work area is wiped off with an absorbent cloth. If the plan is small enough, a scrap from a previous encapsulation may be used. The scraps are kept in the drawer of a dresser in the preservation area.

Otherwise, the large roll of Mylar is retrieved, which is kept under a large cloth to protect it. After bringing it to the work area, the sheet is pulled out to be measured for use. How you position and cut the Mylar for use depends on the size and shape of the plan, and the goal is to avoid wasting any of the material. In this encapsulation, I found that the new roll of Mylar had tape residue, so I was careful not to use the affected areas in the encapsulation.

The plan is laid on the Mylar, and when measuring pieces of Mylar for use, about an inch perimeter is left on all sides of the plan. In this way, two equal pieces of Mylar are cut for use. The Mylar is placed with the inside facing up, with the edges of the material curling upward on the sides, and an anti-static brush is used to remove static. The plan is placed on the Mylar, and a special type of tape is used to frame the document, with about 1/2" between the plan and the tape.

<On one corner, a small amount of space is left between the two pieces of tape, which helps to allow some air in and prevent a microenvironment from developing. The goal is to prevent the sliding of the document in its encasing, while preventing the plan from actually coming into contact with the tape.

The tape is firmly pressed down using a bonefolder, and the edges are lifted slightly, ensuring that the tape’s sticky residue is left behind. The second piece of Mylar is treated with the anti-static brush, then placed on top of the plan, making sure the inside is facing down. The tape between the plans is removed, leaving behind the sticky residue, and the top piece of Mylar is carefully laid on top of the plan, ensuring that no air bubbles are left between the pieces. The bonefolder is again used to press the pieces of Mylar together.

The edges of the encapsulated document are cut so that there is about 1/8” of Mylar around the taped edges, and the corners are rounded to prevent sharp edges from harming any other documents. After this process, you have a document that looks nice and is well preserved and protected.

- Laura Pike, Preservation Intern

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

From the Processing Intern

I am processing the Anne Sweetnam collection of papers. This particular collection is unique among recent acquisitions since it contains the records of a State House employee rather than a Massachusetts legislator. Sweetnam was employed in the Legislative Engrossing Division beginning in the mid 1960s up through the early 2000s. Her responsibilities as part of the Legislative Engrossing Division included preparation and certification of the Final Version of a Bill or Resolve on special parchment before final action was taking by either the House or Senate. The collection includes correspondence, information on engrossing a bill, and several photographs. This undated picture, probably from the early 1970s, shows Anne reviewing revisions as she prepares a bill to undergo the engrossing procedure.

- Andrea Mazzarella, Processing Intern

Monday, November 3, 2008

From the Preservation Lab

Last week I traveled to New Jersey to participate in week one of the Preservation Management Institute at Rutgers University. It was a packed week full of learning, field trips and meeting others in the preservation field.

The week started with presentations on preservation management, care and handling of library materials and the nature of paper. From there we moved on to a full day on HVAC and fire suppression systems; learning both how they work and which systems can work best for a specific type of institution. We were able to apply our newly acquired knowledge the next day as we toured Rutgers' Alexander Library. Library staff took us through the public areas as well as into the machine room and onto the roof to see the HVAC systems in action. It was great to hear the facilities staff speak about pre-action fire suppression systems and actually understand what that meant!

Our field trips continued the next day as we headed to Pennsylvania to the OCLC Preservation Services Center and the Conservation Center for Art and Historic Artifacts (CCAHA). At OCLC we got to see how preservation microfilm is produced as well as how digital images are made from both original items and from previously shot microfilm. Though I have dealt with microfilm in the reading room, it was so interesting to learn how it was produced and how it could be converted to digital images. (The photo at the top was taken at OCLC and it shows canisters of 16mm microfilm stored in the temperature and humidity controled print master storage vault). At CCAHA we were shown through all areas of the conservation lab and were able to see photographs, pastel drawings, oversized maps and many bound volumes being repaired by their trained conservators. It was such a treat to visit! The week ended on Halloween, with a fitting presentation on mold, bugs and rodents. I'll spare you the details, but will say that the entomologist speaking to us had a great sense of humor and provided numerous practical approaches for dealing with the smallest of library patrons.

The Preservation Management Institute is a year-long program, and last week was the first of three that I'll be spending taking classes at Rutgers. The information presented in week one provides a solid basis for my coursework, which involves writing a preservation survey for the State Library. This survey will provide an overall view of the library, its spaces and systems and how they relate to the preservation of collections. Once the survey is completed in early 2009 it will work to provide a structure for the preservation program and perhaps spur new grant writing opportunities. I look forward to applying everything I've learned over the past seven days to the preservation program at the State Library.

- Lacy Crews, Preservation Librarian

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

From the Preservation Intern

Preservation lab image
At this point, I’ve performed preservation work on several of the Brigham Extension architectural plans. Cleaning the plans required several different tools and steps:
Preservation tool image

Large sheets of scrap white paper (1) are placed under the plans to protect them from picking up dirt left on the desk. The paper also serves to catch the dirt removed from the plans during cleaning. The magic sponge comes in large blocks (2), and small squares (3) are removed using scissors or an X-acto knife. The sponge absorbs and removes dirt, and is less likely to remove ink or pencil markings.

The block eraser (4) provides a more thorough cleaning, leaving the paper looking brighter. The stick eraser (5) is the most precise instrument. The tip can be cut into a neat edge using an X-acto knife (6), which helps when one it trying to remove dirt from around pencil markings without them. The pencil marks were added after the plans were drawn in ink, but can still be very significant. In this plan reflecting the interior design of the Senate Reading Room, the pencil drawings are some of the most ornate and interesting, and include the suggestion of a portrait on the wall.

Here is the Senate Reading Room as it exists today. I'm not sure that it exactly represents this architectural plan, but it is beautiful nontheless.

As the dirt is removed using the erasers, a brush (7) is used to remove dirt and eraser shavings from the work area. When applying pressure to the plan to keep it steady during cleaning, pieces of acid free paper (8) are used to protect the plan from the oils on human hands.

After cleaning, the plan looks brighter. In the picture below, the area on the right has been cleaned, and the area on the left awaits preservation work.

My next blog post will discuss the encapsulation process.

- Laura Pike, Preservation Intern

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

From the Preservation Lab

Lately I've been on a mission to rid our stacks of plastic document folders, originally described in this post from July. I've now started on the section of our collection cataloged using the Library of Congress classification. Beginning with the Zs I've pulled both items housed in plastic document folders and thin paperback brochures that are easily lost between larger books.

At the right is one such paperback brochure that struck me as particularly charming. Published in September of 1952, this brochure outlines the need for further public library service in thirty-five western Massachusetts communities. The cover of the brochure is shown at left and at right is one of the last pages of the brochure. As the images show, this item is in good condition so it just received an envelope to help protect it on the shelf from larger hardback books.

The Boston area is lucky to have numerous libraries that are open to the public, and we at the State Library are happy to be included in that group. Though the library is here to serve the legislature and state employees, we are open to the public Monday through Friday from 9am to 5pm. Our main library has a lovely collection of interesting new books, Massachusetts Book Award winners and current periodicals in addition to its thorough collection of Massachusetts legislative resources. Recent updates to the main library, as well as to the periodicals balcony, make it a welcoming and relaxing place to enjoy a bit of casual reading or more in-depth research. Our Special Collections department has a large collection of city directories, maps and atlases for cities and towns throughout Massachusetts. And of course our exhibits are on display anytime the State House is open to the public.

- Lacy Crews, Preservation Librarian

Friday, October 17, 2008

State Documents Online

The reference staff at the State Library has compiled a webpage with links to many of the Massachusetts State Documents that exist in digital form. These include recent reports from state agencies, as well as several series dating back to the 19th century.

Series digitized by the State Library include the Acts and Resolves from 1960 to 1996, Legislative Biographical Directories dating to the 1890s, and the Annual Reports of the Attorney General (from the 1840s to the present). Several other series, such as Massachusetts Election Statistics and the Massachusetts Census have been scanned by other area institutions, such as the University of Massachusetts Amherst.

-Alix Quan, Head of Reference

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Massachusetts Campaign 2008

The State Library, in the height of this campaign season, has received "Campaign 2008 Issues Briefing Book for Massachusetts Candidates and Voters" from MassInc.

This volume presents information to help candidates as they run for office. It serves also to "brief" the general public about what issues are in the forefront of this election cycle in the Bay State. Come visit the library to use this new resource.

-Pamela Schofield, Reference Librarian

From the Edward Kirby Collection

This post continues our series of selections from the Edward Kirby Collection of legislative papers. Processing is now complete, and the collection is open to researchers. The finding aid is available in the Special Collections Department, and a catalog record will soon be viewable in the library OPAC.

These doodles were drawn by Kirby in 1963, during his terms as a State Representative. They are on the back of a dittoed information sheet about a meeting of the Plymouth Couty Republican Club at which Edward M. Swartz, the Assistant Attorney General, would give a talk and answer questions about a new Conflict of Interest Law. In the detailed view of the sheet, you can see Kirby's notes about the planning of the event.

My favorite element, though, is the drawing of Abraham Lincoln shown at left.

-Katie Chase, Special Collections Librarian

From the Preservation Intern

As part of the introductory archives classes at Simmons College Graduate School of Library and Information Science, students complete a sixty-hour internship of their choosing. I was intrigued by the preservation internship here at the Massachusetts State Library because of the opportunity to learn hands-on preservation techniques, including document cleaning and encapsulation, on a fascinating collection of architectural plans. Created in the 1890s for the Brigham Extension, the135 working drawings feature interior plans for plaster, marble, woodwork and glass elements throughout the extension.

The extension was commissioned when the Bulfinch State House (red area) proved too small. The Brigham Extension (yellow area) was added to the back of the Bulfinch State House and was completed in 1895. Later, the State House was extended with East and West Wings (white area), which was completed in 1917.* I look forward to investigating how these plans represent the interior design and style of the Brigham Extension as it exists today. It’s a great reminder of how archival documents can illuminate the present as well as the past.

The plans are larger than any archival documents I’ve worked with before, and vary in terms of size, shape, and level of preservation needed. Some are in need of minor cleaning, while others are much dirtier and may be on paper that is more brittle. Here is an example of how the plans vary. The plan on top is much smaller and is in better condition.

The plan on the bottom, already encapsulated in mylar, is larger and in worse condition, and will more challenging to preserve:

The plans are in ink, but many have pencil marks in various places, and care must be taken not to remove these during cleaning. All of the plans will be encapsulated in Mylar. However they vary, the plans are all beautiful in their design and unique in their historical value.

Because I had never worked with architectural plans before, I was interested to read a book published by the Society of American Archivists called Architectural Records: Managing Design and Construction Records. It provided a good overview of the different types of architectural documents and best practices for their preservation. Lacy also took me on a tour of the Massachusetts State House, which helped provide context for the project.

As I proceed in my work, I will update the blog to discuss how the work is performed and what I’m learning from the experience.

* Graphic Source: The Secretary of the Commonwealth's information on the State House model

- Laura Pike, Preservation Intern

Friday, October 10, 2008

Plymouth: People, Politics and Primary Sources

The anxiously awaited exhibit is now open to the public. Please stop by the State Library in room 341 of the Massachusetts State House to view the exhibition of materials from the State Library's collections highlighting the Town of Plymouth and the Wampanoag, the town's first inhabitants. Some items on display include maps from the 1700s to present, town reports and newspapers from the 1800s, a tax valuation from 1784, legislative papers from former Senator Edward Kirby, and library resources on the Wampanoag. When you visit be sure to pick up a copy of the exhibit bibliography, available in the exhibit area. The exhibit runs through January 23, 2009.

Pilgrim Portrait: Baker, George B. The Pilgrim Spirit. Boston: Marshall Jones Company, 1921.
Portrait of Eben Quippish: Peters, Russell M. The Wampanoags of Mashpee. Jamaica Plain, MA: R.M. Peters, 1987.

- Lacy Crews, Preservation Librarian

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Plymouth Exhibit Preview

Here at the State Library we're hard at work in these last few days to put together a great exhibit opening October 6, 2008.

Plymouth: People, Politics, and Primary Sources

We are excited for this exhibit because we will be displaying some original library collections in addition to reproductions. For items that are too large or fragile to be displayed for several months we are photographing or scanning the items to create a print reproduction. This morning I was photographing the May 4, 1822 edition of the Old Colony Memorial And Plymouth County Advertiser newspaper and came across two interesting advertisements, pictured below.

To see more of the May 4, 1822 edition of the Old Colony Memorial And Plymouth County Advertiser, stop by the exhibit cases outside of the main library (State House Room 341) between October 6, 2008 and January 23, 2009.

- Lacy Crews, Preservation Assistant

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Constitution Day 2008 at Bunker Hill Community College

The State Library will have a table at Bunker Hill Community College's Constitution Day celebration on Wednesday September 17. We will be handing out magnets and bookmarks, and also displaying a new poster we've created featuring the Mayflower Compact as it appears in its earliest existing form: the Bradford Manuscript held by the library. Click at left to see the poster, and read more about the Mayflower Compact below:

On November 21, 1620, before they came ashore at Cape Cod, passengers on the Mayflower made an agreement to join togethers as a "civil body politic." They also agreed to submit to the government that would be chosen by common consent and to obey all laws made for the common good of the colony. It included the names of all male heads of families, free single men, and three of the male servants. The earliest surviving copy of the text is included in Governor WIlliam Bradford's "Of Plimouth Plantation,"written between 1630 and 1646 and held by the State Library of Massachusetts. Bradford did not list the signers nor did he refer to the document as "Compact" or "Mayflower Compact."

The English Magna Carta, written more than 400 years before the Mayflower Compact, established the principle of the rule of law. The Mayflower Compact expanded the concept of rule of law to include government by the people: the idea that lies at the heart of democracy. From its beginning in Plymouth, Massachusetts, self-government evolved into the town meetings of New England and larger local governments in Colonial America. By the time of the Constitutional Convention in the 1780's, the Mayflower Compact had been nearly forgotten, but the notion of self-government had not.

- Katie Chase, Special Collections Librarian, and Paige Roberts, Head of Special Collections

F as in Fat: How Obesity Policies are Failing in America, 2008

The fifth annual report from the Trust for America's Health and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation examines obesity on a state-by-state basis. A telling finding is that the obesity rate has not declined in any state. Within the adult population, Massachusetts ranks 48th in terms of obesity, 33rd for hypertension, 41st for diabetes, and 35th for physical inactivity. Among children and adolescents, 11.1% of Bay State high school students were considered obese and 14.6% were overweight.

Additional rankings and surveys from the CDC and other agencies provide data for policymakers to assess the effectiveness of initiatives. The report presents trends in standards, laws, and regulations; policies in land use and transportation are also covered. Statewide obesity plans are compared and evaluated on a number of variables, such as goals for a healthier workforce.

The Trust calls for the formation of a National Strategy to Combat Obesity by the next President. As in past efforts to promote highway safety and reduce youth smoking, the federal government would direct Cabinet agencies to develop and implement policies and programs within their jurisdiction. By leveraging its resources, the government is in a unique position to set priorities and bring together local and state governments, the private sector, and organizations to work toward a healthier society.

- Tina Vegelante, Reference/Interlibrary Loan Librarian

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

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

From the Edward Kirby Collection

Over the next week, the library blog will be featuring a series of items from the Edward Kirby Collection, which will soon be reseased to researchers.

The first item up is the "Massachusetts Parade of Agricultural Fairs":

This promotional brochure from 1966 was published by the Mass Department of Agriculture. It is in the "Events to Attend" file from Kirby's tenure as a State Representative from 1960-1966. I chose to share this item because of its graphic flair.

-Katie Chase, Special Collections Librarian

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Update from the Preservation Lab

As mentioned in a previous post, the preservation intern and I have been working on boxing a selection of editions of the Public Officers of Massachusetts. As of Friday, all volumes in the project have been boxed. The preservation intern, Denise, had this to say about the experience:

"Though initially daunted by the prospect of building boxes for a full shelf of books, I became more confident in my skills as I progressed in the project. Lacy provided an excellent and detailed set of instructions (including diagrams and visual aids) to assist my memory after our step-by-step box construction training session. I soon developed a sense of the work flow and the physical memory of "making a box" which allowed me to assemble multiple boxes simultaneously. I asked questions as necessary and as I finished cutting stock for the final boxes I realized I had developed a skill I could keep for life."

The boxing project was Denise's final project as summer intern and she did a great job!

- Lacy Crews, Preservation Assistant

Thursday, August 21, 2008

From the Preservation Lab Intern

As part of ongoing pamphlet binding work performed this summer, I turned up documents from the Massachusetts Civil Defense Agency (MCDA) and the Massachusetts Committee on Public Safety. Those with an interest in National Security issues at the end of World War II and the beginning of the Cold War era may find this information interesting. The purpose of civil defense as stated in the pamphlet is: "to minimize the effects of enemy attacks or major disaster upon the people, property, industry and commerce of the Commonwealth."

The Organization Plan includes a map and organization chart that specifies which agency has responsibility for which region and the services provided within that region (medical, water supplies, rebuilding, etc.). It also contains an appendix with the Administrative Orders designating this responsibility and the date the order was issued.

The MCDA coordinated efforts with the Federal government in order to most efficiently cover the state's emergency needs. Some of the wording of the document is specific to the Cold War era (nuclear fallout shelters) but as the main purpose of the document is to give an accounting of which agencies are responsible for the welfare of the citizenry during a disaster, much of the information is still pertinent.

The Committee on Public Safety document is a report on air raid alarm signals. It rates the alarm's effectiveness in terms of sound and how it carries in a specific urban area in order to gauge how well the signal would travel during "air raids, blackouts, fire and contingent emergencies." The detailed testing of different air horns is meticulously graphed and reported in order to provide the best equipment to the community during wartime (1941).

As the binding on the Organization Plan is quite firmly attached, I merely built a four flap document enclosure to protect it and provide support. I removed staples and sewed most of the other documents in this group.

-Denise Anderson, Preservation Intern