AIC 2010 Notes: “13 Years Later: Looking Back at a Bound-Pamphlet Project”

“13 Years Later: Looking Back at a Bound-Pamphlet Conservation and Cataloging Project”

Chela Metzger, Lecturer, School of Information, The University of Texas at Austin

Wednesday, May 12, 2010, 2:30-3:00 p.m.

In 1994 the Huntington Library began a two-year, NEH funded project to review, catalog and conserve 6,000 16th – 18th Century pamphlet titles that were bound into 587 volumes. Metzger participated in this project and was interested to see how the repairs held up over the past thirteen years.

Binding multiple pamphlets of varying subjects and sizes together used to be a common practice in libraries. Policies on reviewing the condition of bound pamphlets and treating damaged volumes differ by institution, as do opinions about what effect on the ‘authenticity’ that binding may have on a publication that was meant to be a single object.

That said, the bound volumes in this project were considered to be important to researchers as objects and therefore were not considered for disbinding. Metzger found that the majority of condition problems were structural and devised a treatment plan that included Japanese tissue hinge repairs and re-backing with leather or cloth. Original sewing and bindings were kept when possible.

Metzger returned to review the materials that were repaired in 1994-1996 during the NEH project. She examined 134 of the treatments and found that 2% (3 volumes) had complete failure of the board attachment. 18% of the paper hinges were lifting at the tail, and there were other problems with lifting of the inner paper hinges. She theorizes that this may be due to error when applying the tissue hinge.

The other issue here is use. Every institution defines “heavy use” in special collections differently. She looked at the use statistics from before the original project. Between 1917-1996 the median use was less than one use per year. Microfilming and duplicate removal projects may have contributed to some of the damage as well. Between 1996-2009 statistics were slightly higher in this collection but not significantly. When I talked with her afterwards, Metzger said she would like to continue checking in on the collection to see how the repairs hold up over time and with more use.

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One Response

  1. If only more people could read this.

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