Wednesday, April 29, 2009

From the Preservation Intern

To prepare for the upcoming exhibit called Ernest Dudley Chase: A Worldview in Maps held in the State Library from May 22 - September 7, 2009, I have been helping the special collections department with its maps. The map on the left is an example of one of Mr. Chase's maps called The Story Map of Flying.

To prepare the maps, I cleaned the front and back of the maps with a dry cleaning sponge. This sponge is not a typical dish washing sponge. Instead, a dry cleaning sponge is rubbery, it is never wet, and a thin piece is cut off when the sponge becomes saturated with dirt. I also used a non-abrasive, non-smudging, vinyl eraser pencil to remove visible marks.

After the maps were cleaned, I repaired any paper tears the maps had with a Japanese mending paper called Kizukishi. I cooked paste to adhere the Japanese mending paper to the map. To cook paste, I mixed five tablespoons of water to one tablespoon of neutral pH pure wheat starch paste that is a powder form. To get the thick consistency, I placed the liquid paste in the microwave for one minute. Every six seconds, I paused the microwave to check on the paste. It was interesting to see the paste thicken slightly every six seconds. The paste may also be placed on a double boiler, but as the Special Collections Department has a microwave, the paste was microwaved. After the paste thickened, I brushed a layer of paste on the Japanese mending paper and used a microspatula to apply the Japanese mending paper to the paper tear on the back of the map. The mending paper was smoothed out to elongate paper fibers and create an even adhesion. A sandwich of blotter paper, non-woven polyester, repaired map, non-woven polyester, and blotter paper was created and weights were place on top. The weights are left overnight and in the morning any stray paper fibers were trimmed. The image below includes the tools used to repair the maps.

Clockwise from top: Water, brush container, wheat starch paste, pencil, water "pen" for tearing pieces of Japanese mending paper, microspatula, Mylar for applying paste to mending paper, Japanese mending paper.

Stay tuned for the next post, which will include encapsulating the maps for exhibit display!

- Tina Chan, Preservation Intern

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Marijuana Misdemeanor Laws

The Massachusetts Trial Court Libraries has compiled a page summarizing the new law which decriminalizes the possession of one ounce or less of marijuana.

This law was passed last fall as a ballot question and became law as Chapter 387 of the Acts of 2008 was passed. It became effective January 1, 2009.

Naomi Allen, Reference Librarian

Friday, April 17, 2009

Library Closed for Patriots' Day, April 20th

The State Library will be closed Monday, April 20th for Patriots' Day.

Patriots' Day is a civic holiday commemorating the anniversary of the Battles of Lexington and Concord, the first battles of the American Revolutionary War. It is observed in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and state of Maine and is a public school observance day in Wisconsin.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Cooked Books and Red Tape

What you see in the picture to the left is all that remains of a massive, multi-year preservation project to repair and re-house over 1700 items from the library's collection that were set aside during a shifting project. These items appeared to be 'cooked' due to their brittle pages and poor quality leather bindings. The books you see here are destined to receive custom phase boxes before they return to the shelves.

At the State Library we make all of our phase boxes custom to the book and everything is done by hand. The boxes are secured closed by flat cotton string. Since I've been in the preservation lab I've been using unbleached cotton string, but several spools of red cotton string remain in the lab from years past. I feel it is important to use all of the materials we have, often cutting small boxes out of the scraps from larger boxes. So I thought that perhaps we could use the remainder of red string for the cooked books' boxes, but first I decided to test it.

My main concern with using the red string has always been that in the event of a water leak or flood the red dye might run and damage the book inside the box and those books around it. To test the string, I placed a bit of it into a cup of hot water and a cup of cold water.

The first picture was taken within minutes of adding the water, and the hot water had already started to run the dye. The hot water cup is on the left.

I left the string in the water overnight and returned to find that the dye had run in the cold water as well, though not as much as in the hot water.

It was a simple test, but quickly ruled out using this string in the construction of preservation phase boxes. Instead we will continue to use unbleached flat cotton string in the construction of our boxes.

Over the next few months I will train the preservation intern and our Northeastern University co-op student in the construction of boxes. This collection of eighty books will receive their attention first, and hopefully all books will be back on the shelves by the end of the summer.

- Lacy Crews, Preservation Librarian

Monday, April 6, 2009

Joanne Swirbalus, Business Specialist, Retires

This communication is to announce the retirement of our Business Specialist, Joanne Swirbalus. Joanne specifically requested that her retirement announcement be kept low key and without a lot of fanfare.

During her long stay at the library, Joanne has been a solid and dedicated member of the library staff. She has done a great job establishing positive working relationships with all who have had a need for her services.

I’m sure I speak for the entire library staff when I say that we all will dearly miss Joanne's tireless work ethic and her ever-present good cheer. However, Joanne has worked hard all of her career, and has earned the opportunity to enjoy more time to pursue personal interests, as well as spend more time with her family and friends.

In Joanne’s honor, she will become the first member of the newly formed Friends of the Library of Massachusetts group. I ask that you join me in saluting Joanne for 46 years of outstanding service to the Commonwealth, and wishing her all the best in her retirement.

Elvernoy Johnson
State Librarian