Conference Report: GBW Standards of Excellence

Post contributed by Karen Jutzi, Conservation Assistant, Special Collections, Yale University Library Preservation Department.

The 30th annual Guild of Book Workers Standards of Excellence Seminar was held October 6–8 at the Park Plaza Hotel in Boston, MA. Four optional tours of area facilities were given on Thursday: North Bennett Street School & the Boston Athenaeum;  Margaret Clapp Library at Wellesley College; the Museum of Printing History & NEDCC; and ACME Bookbinding & Harcourt Bindery. I attended the tours of the Museum of Printing History and NEDCC, where we were shown the imaging facilities and the paper and book conservation labs.

Thursday evening’s opening reception was held at M.I.T.’s Hayden Library. During the reception, the Wunsch Conservation Lab was open to tours, which were given by Nancy Schrock, Bexx Caswell and Ayako Letiza. There was also a selection of items from the Hayden Library’s special collections laid out for our perusal.

Presenters at this year’s Standards were Katherine Beatty, Dan Essig, Todd Pattison, and John DeMerritt.

Katherine Beatty demonstrated the construction of an Islamic bookbinding. Katherine holds an MA in paper conservation from Buffalo State College. She studied Islamic bindings with Yasmeen Khan at the Library of Congress. Katherine constructed an Islamic bookbinding from start to finish:  from the method of sewing the text block, through a demonstration of the intricately woven chevron endbands, to the construction of the leather case with its distinctive fore-edge flap, to the elaborate cover decoration.

Todd Pattison, Collections Conservator for Harvard College Library, presented a 19th century cloth reback with board reattachment.  Todd demonstrated the entire treatment (with a little help from a hair dryer to hasten paste drying) within his 2.5-hour session, noting that at Harvard the expected treatment time is usually less than 2 hours. To create a more sympathetic reback, he tears the cloth, and leaves material in the joint. When the spine piece is reattached, the torn edges of the cloth fit back together and create a less obvious repair.

John DeMeritt, an edition binder from California, demonstrated a “modified” Bradel binding he uses in his work. From what I could tell, what made it modified was his use of jaconet instead of paper to connect the boards. He prefers to use jaconet for strength. In this particular binding he also used Bristol board instead of binder’s board, which (after lining and covering with book cloth) created rigid but very thin covers.

All in all, a very interesting series of tours and sessions.

 

 

 

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