-work in progress- Balloffet. Preservation and Conservation for Libraries and Archives / Nelly Balloffet and Jenny Hille © 2005
Preservation and conservation sometimes confused, terms sometimes used interchangeable. In general:
Introduction Preservation: the conscious, deliberate and planned supervision, care and preservation of the total resources of a library, archives, or similar institution, from the injurious effect of age, use (or misuse), as well as external or internal influences of all types, but especially, light, heat, humidity and atmospheric influences. o Includes all steps to ensure holding remain in the best possible condition for as long as possible. Includes storage, environment, security and overall safekeeping. o Includes safeguarding information through reformatting or replacement
Conservation: a field of knowledge concerned with practical application of the techniques of binding, restoration, paper chemistry, and other material technology, as well as other knowledge pertinent to the preservation of archival resources o Emphasis on physical treatment of specific items or collections o Includes hands-on work, including simple steps to major procedures and repairs
Book inspired by workshops the two authors taught over last 12 years.
“This is not a book to read cover to cover but rather a place to find information on a variety of subjects”
“Many of the procedures are not new; we have simply endeavored to present techniques in a clear way after field-testing them in our seminars.”
Techniques taught in this book are designed to be fairly simple and produce reliable results. They suggest that a conservator be contacted for more advanced problems such as lining, fills, in-painting etc. Suitable for materials without great artifactual value. “The goal is to get books or documents back on the shelf so their information can be access, and to do so in a reasonably cost-efficient way with no damage to the materials” If in doubt about artistic, historic or monetary value, store it in archivally safe box or folder and consult an expert
Section 1: Basics of Preservation For Administrators and to establish framework for everything to follow
I. Environment Good environment benefits all areas of a library or archives. Keeps materials from becoming dirty, faded, moldy, brittle, pest-infested, or general deterioration a. Temperature and humidity i. Maintaining temperature and humidity important ii. The higher the temperature, the more moisture the air can hold, thus relative humidity (RH) is how much water the air can hold relative to the temperature iii. Storage only areas: 50% RH and 60ºF iv. Low RH: items from parchment and most photographs likely to shring, all library materials become dessicated and suffer mechanical stress; emulsion on slides and negatives starts to separate from the film carrier, brittleness, delamination, warping and other damage, often irreversible follow v. High RH: hygroscopic materials absorb water and swell: bindings and paper swell making books hard to pull from shelves, and folders from full cabinets. Can also cause mold outbreak vi. Changing RH and temperature: RH should not change more than ±2% within 24 hours. Materials shrink and swell, increasing the damage, likelihood of condensation increases which is just as damaging as a flood vii. Check building for physical problems which may cause inconsitencies in environment, consider repairs or renovations ass needed. More efficient to consult with an engineer who specializes in library and museum buildings b. HVAC (heating, ventilation, air conditioning) i. Be aware of effect that air conditioners and heaters can have on temperature and humidity. Unless specific conditions can be met, they do not recommend the use of humidifiers. The older the building, typically the more problems ii. Air pollution filters. More stringent exposure limits are set for collections than for people. The human body is living, it can repair itself. Paper should last longer than the ~100 years a human can live, the cumulative effects can be worse because of the above 2 points iii. Cold storage. If can get a cool room 40-60ºF for color photos, film, glass negatives, slides, motion pictures, microfilm, magnetic tapes iv. Monitor conditions – ideally monitor for one year, measure at high shelves, low shelves, close to outdoor walls, in the middle of the room, in corners or where air flow is not good Equipment (most expensive > least expensive) 1. hygrothermographs – running graph on paper, data and charts must be recorded manually, popular with museums and archives, can be calibrated 2. data loggers- digital, can be set to taken at certain times, can be downloaded to computers, and can be connected, can be calibrated 3. digital psychrometers – hand-held with display and minimum and maximum memory, can be calibrated 4. digital hygrothermometer - with display and minimum and maximum memory, can not be calibrated 5. hygrometers (often used in display cases) 2” long, dial for temperature, dial for RH, strip along bottom shows RH, and can indicate if needs calibrating. Can purchase calibrating kit 6. temperature / humidity cards – good way to measure many areas, inexpensive, can be used up to a year, can buy in quantities of 100 or more c. Light i. Ultraviolet light – most damaging to paper, textiles, leather, many plastics and photographic processes. Causes fading, color changes, brittleness, cracking and delaminating. In sunlight, fluorescent lights, some tungsten-halogen lamps. Filters are available for all ii. Visible light – high levels still cause deterioration but at a much slower rate than UV iii. Protection: UV filters, UV absorbing paints and ceiling tiles, rotate exhibits, make facsimiles, use opaque protective containers d. Maintenance and housekeeping i. Whole building and all its systems must be kept in good operating condition, meticulous roof and gutter maintenance, inspect ventilation and heating inspections on a regular schedule to identify potential problems before they happen 1. no smoking 2. no food or drink 3. maintain grounds, keep plants trimmed and away from building to prevent housing for rodents and pests and keep air circulating near the building to reduce humidity buildup, ensure good drainage away from building
II. Education a. Create flyer, pamphlet, or booklet to train staff and users in basic rules, use illustrations, and keep the language light and friendly, on how to handle books. (samples in book) b. Print bookmarks on acid-free stock (and state it on the bookmark) c. Provide bookmarks or acid-free slips of paper on tables in the library or archives, if users leave them in the book, they won’t do any damage
III. Disaster Planning and Response a. Priorities i. First, make sure staff and patrons are safe ii. Second, maintain institution’s ability to continue functioning during and after an emergency iii. Third, make provisions to reduce damage to the collections b. Each institution should have an evacuation plan c. Plan for contingency arrangements (temporary offices, computer set up etc.) d. Collection priorities – type and value of books damaged, minimize damage, repair or replace e. Conduct a general assessment survey f. Compile disaster plan i. Calling chains ii. Response team iii. One-sheet page of instructions for each area (sample on p. 15) iv. Emergency supplies v. Recovery plans vi. Distribute the disaster plan vii. Extra precautions during constructions and renovations g. Water emergencies – can occur alone (burst pipe, over flow, roof leak, etc.) or in conjunction with another (fire, hurricane, earthquake) Require quick action to dry, freeze-dry, or take some other action h. Failure of HVAC system – look for mold, train staff how to identify mold, always best to catch early i. Instructions on how to clean a small outbreak of mold: wear protective gear (gloves, face masks), seal clothing and rags after done cleaning, wash and clean everything, including yourself; seal-off HVAC vents to prevent spread; seal and remove books from the library; cleaning methods; prevent future mold outbreaks; major mold outbreaks may require professional disaster response teams j. Disaster recovery: restore building or move to temporary location, repair ore replace materials
IV. Storage Methods a. Storage furniture i. Shelves: use powder-coated steel, or other materials which will not off-gas ; avoid wood shelving which gives off acid gases. If using existing storage furniture, can use a variety of materials (replacing with steel shelves, sealing water-based polyurethane, cover with polyester film) ii. Enclosed cabinets and bookcases: same metal as shelves, careful with conditions which can develop in enclosed, rarely used areas, especially if in room which is not environmentally controlled iii. Compact shelving: can hold more materials per square foot, make sure floor will hold extra weight, closed ranges cause poor air circulation, beware of poor environmental conditions which can cause mold to grow, use monitoring equipment with alarm if humidity rises above 50% iv. [book shelves, shelving techniques, do not crowd, oversized shelving] v. book storage in archives often have unique or artifactual value, place flat in box, stand upright, or place on their spines. Do not let them lean at an angle, or try to stuff into a space that is not big enough. Wrap in acid-free paper or put it into a phase box. Wrap leather-covered books with red-rot in paper or polyester jackets. vi. Document storage: acid-free file folders, polyester sleeves, enclosures made of inert or acid-free materials b. Storage of larger items i. Flat files– oversized items, artwork, matted items, careful with framed items (glass breakage, hanging hardware that can damage adjacent materials ii. Rolls – wrap in acid-free paper, close with cotton ties or Velcro dots, should extend beyond the rolls for extra precaution, roll around an acid-free tube for support, and/or place in rolled tube iii. Framed art – remove from frame if possible for storage, place in padded frame rack, use foam board between frames iv. Off-site storage – visit in person to inspect before deciding, consider costs, security, convenience, retrieval, environmental control v. Water alarms can be hooked up to ring in a central location, like fire alarms vi. Inappropriate storage places: 1. basements or other areas that may flood 2. attics, barns, other places where environment cannot be controlled 3. Floor – anywhere. Even if a flood is not expected, a leak can always occur, and can run along the floor until it finds either a drain or something to absorb the water, like paper. V. Repairs to avoid a. Repairing items that have historical, artistic or monetary value. Repairs, unless done correctly, could very likely diminish the value. Contact a conservator b. Repairs that are very time-consuming. It is better to repair a loose hinge than a broken binding. Evaluate if it would be better to replace the book with a newer book, than to repair an older outdated one. If possible or necessary, duplicate (microfilm, photocopy, digitize) c. Rebinding unnecessarily. No sense in rebinding if the pages themselves are brittle and falling apart. Place in phase box or enclosure instead d. Projects that are too large to work in your available space. If the map is falling off the table, and you cannot maneuver it without causing more damage, do not attempt to repair it in-house e. Operations that require sprays and chemicals. If you do use chemicals, ensure that there is adequate ventilation, gloves, and masks or respirators as appropriate
VI. Work flow charts (books and papers) a. Librarians, archivists, curator survey and sort into 1) withdraw 2) replace 3) reformat 4) treatment. b. If treatment is selected, determine if it should be treated in-house or by a professional conservator (or binder). c. If in-house treatment, determine if should re-house in a better container (envelope, jacket, box, etc.) or other treatment (next few chapters)
Section 2: Getting started: work space, equipment, tools and techniques For Administrators and to establish framework for everything to follow
I. Dedicated space a. Need to be able to keep work out for processing without having to clean up after every work session, especially if done part-time. Need clean work space, sink, storage areas b. Sink especially important to keep hands clean during repairs, and during some treatments c. Floors that are easy to clean, such as tile d. Work surfaces as different heights for sitting or standing. Can raise table by placing blocks under legs e. Adjustable chairs on casters f. Carts or stands on casters to carry supplies, equipment, or items to repair g. Lighting and environment i. Use both ceiling fixtures and task lighting. Always use UV filters on lights and windows ii. Environment in work space is just as important as in storage areas. No food or drink, h. Storage i. Need shelves, flat files and cabinets. ii. Need storage for tools and repair supplies iii. Flat file cabinets for oversized maps, art and other large items iv. Do not use wood because of off-gassing v. can sometimes get good surplus furniture, but be sure it is suitable. Once you have something, it is much more difficult to request a new one i. Equipment i. Good quality cutter to cut large sheets of paper, board, mylar quickly and accurately – need regardless of size of archives 1. with clamp to prevent paper from sliding as blade comes down 2. decide on size and type (paper, board) you will be cutting ii. Press – not essential, but makes work so much more quick and efficient and will last a long time. Can be used in book binding and flattening paper documents iii. Bone or Teflon folders – score, rub down pasted areas, mark distances, burnish materials, etc. Bone works better than plastic which can scratch and is generally not shaped as well as bone. j. Working tips i. Measuring: techniques like marking corners with small holes from a very fine awl point, pencil dot, short slits with scissors or knife, crimp or indentation; using strips of scrap paper to wrap around round or irregular objects such as book spines, or placing object on top of paper or board and tracing around it ii. Grain direction: always fold, crease, and cut with the grain (imagine tearing something out of the newspaper – always works better tearing with the grain) 1. Manufacturers often mark the grain by underlining one of the numbers indicating the size of the paper eg. 8 ½ x 11 indicates the “grain long” meaning the paper will fold easier the long way (to 4.25 x 11) 2. curl the sheet in both directions, press and bounce gently in your hand, see which way provides the least resistance 3. tear in both directions to see which way tears easiest – do not test on archival materials! 4. board: place on flat surface, thumbs underneath and fingers on top, gently bend edge up slightly, it is better to close eyes to let the feel of your fingers tell you 5. laminated, ply, museum boards in multiple layers – layers generally alternating iii. Cutting: use cutting board with a clamp or a knife with a straight edge (steel ruler) on self-healing cutting mats. Always line up the cutting mat in the same direction for every cut – crisscrossed lines from previous cuts can deflect the knife, use a light hand to avoid cutting too deeply into the mat, better to make several light cuts on heavy board than one deep one. For long cuts, leave the knife where it is, and move fingers iv. Adhesives: all glues keep longer if not contaminated. Place small amount of glue into separate container for use. Container should be wide-mouthed, straight, and won’t tip over. Pay attention to type of glue, some keep better in refrigerator, some should not be refrigerated. Always keep lid and ring clean. Keep brushes clean, keep in glue or water until they can be cleaned. Dry hanging from rack, or in container, bristles up. Select brushes with short handles to avoid knocking the container over. Use unprinted newspaper for keeping things clean, it is absorbent and inexpensive, available from moving companies and shipping supply vendors (also good to have on hand for disaster preparedness) Apply adhesive from the center toward the edges v. General tips: 1. if no sink is handy, keep waterless hand cleanser and paper towels nearby 2. don’t use post-its on archival or library materials – some adhesive remains behind when they are removed, causing pages to stick together, and attracting dirt, even if it does not feel sticky. 3. don’t use rubber bands - they can leave indentations. If not removed, rubber deteriorates, sticking to objects and giving off harmful gases.
Section 3: Simple preservation techniques
Recognize the fact that you won’t get everything fixed right away. Some will need to be revisited as skills are acquired, or because of time considerations. Best thing to do is to house them properly until they can be properly repaired. Can protect a lot more in a shorter time, and for a fraction of the coast of making repairs.
1. Rehousing library and archive materials a. Consider value of the material – keep, discard, individual enclosures, or large storage enclosures i. Individual enclosures: fragile, damaged items or rare, valuable items ii. If in doubt – this decision can always reversed iii. Always clean materials before placing in an enclosure. Look for evidence of dust, mold, insects, etc. Clean and enclose in 2 separate stages to avoid getting dirt into the storage container, have 2 separate areas if possible. Keep areas clean. 2. Storage containers a. Envelope: buffered paper sealed on 3 sides, sometimes with flap enclosure on 4th side. Sometimes made from Tyvek which allows vapor to escape, but is resistant to liquids, tears, and punctures b. Envelope sling: long piece of sturdy paper, folded with booklet, pamphlet, etc. inside, used to lower into envelope c. Sleeve: see-through enclosure, closed on 1, 2, or 3 sides. Made from polyester, polyethylene, or polypropylene and avoid acetate and vinyl d. Folder: generally use buffered for most archival documents e. Wrapper: phase box generally made in-house from lightweight board f. Dust jacket: plastic cover to protect book covers g. Pamphlet binder: provides a hard cover to a thin booklet h. Album: book-shaped binder with 3 rings, or another mechanism to hold plastic sleeves for document or photo storage i. Box: all made from boards of various types, some with metal edges, different lids: flip-up, clamshell, separate lids j. Acid-free term used inexactly. Could be neutral (7 pH) or up to 14, including glue sticks which have between 10 and 14, enough to discolor and damage paper i. 7.0 = neutral k. Acid free paper should be between 6 and 7 pH l. Buffered paper, or alkaline reserve is generally around 8.5 to 9 by adding calcium carbonate or another alkaline substance m. Sometimes something that has no acid, is refered to as ‘acid-free’ but real problem could be off-gassing, such as polyethylene sleeves. Look for “inert” polyester, polyethylene, and polypropylene. Also, look for items that have passed the PAT test. Avoid vinyl and acetate sleeves. n. Test for pH with an indicator strip or pH pen o. PAT: Photographic Activity Test storage items are suitable for photographic as well as other archival items. A better indication of quality than simply stating “acid free” p. Purchase storage items from established library and archival suppliers rather than general office products suppliers q. Periodically test the pH of older storage containers. They may become contaminated due to atmospheric pollution or contact with wooden furniture. Outside of box might read acidic, whereas inside should read neutral or buffered, this just means the box is doing its job. Boxes that hold newspapers, leather bindings, and certain types of photographic materials may cause the inside of the box to become acidic. If this happens, the only thing to do is to replace the box. r. Often more than one way to store and item, depending on the situation. Paper envelopes or polyester sleeves both do the job, just in different ways s. Place buffered or acid-free paper on either side of acidic items 3. Photographic materials a. Albums and scrapbooks: wrap in acid-free wrapping paper, enclose in storage boxes or phase-boxes. Label and place flat on shelf. Be careful not to stack too many b. Photos: Always use PAT tested storage. Always use gloves because the oils in the skin etch the emulsion and will become indelible fingerprints over time. Don’t use gloves with patterns or dots, they cal also leave marks on the photos. Gloves can make fingers clumsier, can handle photos without gloves as long as touch edges only c. Store prints and negatives separately. In case of disaster, both would be lost if together. Always remove from unsuitable storage containers. Always transfer any label information d. Negatives need to be placed in plastic sleeves designed for their use. e. Photos should be placed in suitable plastic sleeves or paper envelopes f. Glass plate negatives and lantern slides: place in paper (acid-free or buffered) envelope. Four-flap enclosures generally work the best. Store on edge in boxes designed for them. Keep upright with filler item so they don’t lean. Use cardboard dividers every few plates to keep upright and rigid if necessary 4. Paper or plastic? a. Paper: usually cheaper, opaque to keep light out, breathes, prevents buildup of moisture and damaging gasses. Item must be removed from enclosure to view, may cause more handling, generally cheaper. b. Plastic: make sure to use inert plastic, clear for viewing without removing from enclosure, but since usually stored in boxes, this should not be a problem. Keeps harmful atmospheric pollution out, but at the same time, might trap it inside. Can develop static which can pull pigment or fragments off items, generally not good for original art objects (charcoal drawings, paintings, etc). Generally more expensive 5. Waterproof: photos can be damaged beyond repair if wet. Never store on floor, use waterproof boxes if feasible 6. Maps, posters, architectural photoreproductions: always store either flat or rolled a. Rolled: items in good condition can be placed in a tube available from suppliers. Otherwise, wrap around an acid-free core then cover with acid-free wrapping paper. Use cotton twill tape or polyester film with Velcro fasteners to keep closed
[How to make folders, book wrappers, envelopes, sleeves, dust jackets]
Section 4: Paper conservation techniques
1. Paper a. Japanese paper better for mending. Surface is usually soft so repairs blend in. Long fibers make even thin papers very strong. Can be torn into strips with feathered edges. Torn edges are softer than cut edges and are not so likely to cut or damage the paper being mended, especially if it is fragile. Keep scraps in box or envelope – you will frequently find uses for them. b. Western paper more appropriate for endpaper, barrier sheets, storage containers, and book covers. Western paper is stiffer and has a harder surface 2. Adhesives: should not be stronger than the paper itself, otherwise the paper will tear around the adhesive. Should not leave a residue, and should be easy to reverse without causing damage. Should not discolor or stain the paper. a. Adhesive tapes (even “archival” tape) hard to remove, stronger than paper b. White glues hold is too strong, very difficult to remove. Turns stiff and translucent c. Glue sticks, even “acid free” sometimes err on the other side, becoming too alkaline. d. Rubber cement: gives of toxic gases, damages paper irreversibly, stains paper e. Starch paste: best adhesive to use. Mix in-house by stirring powdered starch with water and cooking slowly while stirring. Won’t keep long, make limited quantities when needed. [Book supplies directions]
- more to come -