This year’s Book and Paper Group tips session was truly impressive. The whole session was jam-packed with helpful hints and I found myself in frantic note taking mode, trying to record all of the great advice. In just over an hour, eleven “tippers” presented an array of useful descriptions of experiences, treatment methods, housing projects, and emergency preparedness information. Everyone had great visuals with photos and diagrams, physical examples to examine, and even take-away samples.
Several tips had emergency preparedness and response in mind. First, we learned of Laura McCann’s experience with the flooding in NYC as a result of Hurricane Sandy. When the East River overflowed and completely submerged a medical library’s records storage, the materials were not accessible for weeks! The importance of prior planning was highlighted. When power is lacking, it is extremely useful to have headlamps and absolutely necessary to have your emergency plans accessible at home. Consideration of priority collections, BEFORE the stress of an emergency situation, was emphasized. Those in attendance were able to collect a sample of a TEK wipe, which is absorbent and reusable. Also on the topic of emergencies, Emily Rainwater explained how Karen Pavelka tested the effectiveness of polypropylene fiber pads for absorbing oil, a common contaminant in flood water. These pads attract oil, but repel water. Finally, Roberta Woodrick showed us how to creatively use hairpins to attach Colorplast awnings as a shield for library shelving in areas with recurring leaks. She had also built a mobile humidity chamber of ¼”acrylic sheet and furniture movers with wheels, in order to humidify large architectural drawings.
There was a presentation on lead white reversion by Amy Hughes, which lead to some interesting commentary and discussion of the mixed results several conservators had experienced when trying to reduce the discoloration of lead white pigments. As might be expected of an oxidation-reduction reaction, hydrogen peroxide treatment to improve discolored lead pigment may be temporary. There was suggestion that inpainting over discolored lead white is a viable option that should be considered. In any case, it seems important that conservators communicate the reactivity of lead white to clients and curators to warn of possible changes after treatment.
For reducing mineral deposits on paper, Karen Dabney demonstrated how “huffing” into a beaker of deionized water produced an effective solution of carbonic acid (pH 4). Her before and after images revealed just how effective this could be, but be careful not to hyperventilate if you try this yourself!
Judy Walsh was not present, but she created some impressive diagrams of a method of creating a cheap and effective suction disk for treating individual book pages, while still bound.
Renate Mesmer provided some examples of neatly engineered storage enclosures for a hanging wax seal and a sliding tray for a vellum manuscript broken in half, inspired by the mechanics of a pop-up book. She also had a video of how a hot air gun can magically correct errors in folds and angles when making book exhibit supports of Vivak (clear thermoplastic sheet of polyethylene terephthalate). http://www.professionalplastics.com/VIVAKPETGSHEET
These were some, but not all, of the tips we heard this year from BPG members. Thanks to all of the tips contributors; Shelly Smith, Beth Doyle, Renate Mesmer, Karen Dabney, Deborah Rohan, Judy Walsh, Jamye Jamison, Karen Pavelka, Roberta Woodrick, Amy Hughes, and Laura McCann, and many thanks to Sarah Reidell for moderating.
Look for these tips and more, to be published in the next BPG Annual.