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AIC 2010 Notes: Library Collections Conservation Discussion Group

Library Collections Conservation Discussion Group

Thurs., May 13, 10:30 a.m. -12:00 p.m.

LLCDG’s session titled “Conservation in the 21st Century: Revisiting Past Practices and Their Evolution in Institutional Settings” had five presentations.

Eliza Gilligan, Conservator for University Library Collections, University of Virginia Library, presented “Shrinking Resources: Invest in the Decision-making Process.” This talk outlined how her department improved the workflow for items that needed bibliographic review prior to a decision to repair or replace. Eliza developed a plan wherein her staff would do the preliminary research for replacements, work that takes time and causes backlogs when the bibliographers don’t keep up with it. Eliza created a review form that was easy to use by both the conservation staff and the librarians, and her staff did the preliminary research. The new process shows cooperation between departments and demonstrates that conservation can be a cost effective alternative to replacement.

Fletcher Durant, Project Conservator, New York Public Library, presented  “Digitization-driven Large-scale Conservation Projects.” His talk outlined the conservation he did on the Legge Collection. For this NEH funded grant, five of six titles from the Legge Collection (a total of 71 volumes with 12,000 pages) were chosen for digitization. Durant had to develop the workflow and fully treat these items over an 18 month period. During that time the NYPL conservation lab had to move to its new location, so there were many challenges to getting the project done on time.

Ann Carol Kearney, Collections Conservator, University of Albany, presented her survey findings in a paper titled “The Use of Japanese Paper in the Repair of Leather Volumes in ARL Libraries’ Preservation Departments Survey Results.” She found that board attachment and rebacking are the primary uses of Japanese paper described by survey participants.

Grace Owen and Sarah Reidell, Conservators at New York Public Library, spoke on “Synthetic Leather for Book Repair: Experimenting with Cast Composites.” They have developed a technique that utilizes a silicone-mold kit to create a mold of the texture of leather. A cast is then made from a composite mixture of acrylic gel medium and colorants that are then applied to a substrate. The synthetic leather composite can be used for hinge repairs and fills. It is a low cost, easy-to-use solution that complements current treatment practices.

Gary Frost, Conservator, University of Iowa, and author of the Future of the Book blog, presented “The Continuing Role of the Print Collections in the Context of Digital Delivery: Risks, Responses and Actions.” There is a growing link between the certification of digital reprography and the discard of the original materials. Frost proposes that there is an interdependence between the physical and the digital book collections. This interdependence is between the self-authenticating nature of a physical book and the self-indexing of a digital book.

Reasons for keeping physical books after digitization abound. Unlike the continuing costs for keeping digital collections, a physical book combines both storage and display for a single purchase costs. Preservation is a passive act (sort of) compared to the proactive preservation needs of a digital object over time. A physical book assures the ability to re-read over time without intervention and provides research validity (the physical book is unchanging whereas there are authenticity issues with a digital object over time).

Two upcoming events will tackle some of these issues. The ALA-RBMS/PARS sponsored “Strategic Future of Print Collections” on June 27, 2010, and the Future of the Book seminars in Iowa, August 31-October 5, 2010. Stay tuned to Gary’s blog for more information on the seminars.

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