Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Personnel Update in Preservation Services

At the end of July, Stephanie Wolff will be leaving Preservation Services. Stephanie has been part of Preservation Services since 2006, starting as a Conservation Technician and then promoted to Assistant Conservator. In her role, she has accomplished much and has significantly contributed to the care and treatment of the valuable materials housed within the library. I am sad to see her go, but happy for her as she moves forward to pursue her love of the book arts and teaching. She will focus on book arts curriculum and how content through research can inform expression and creativity.  If she is teaching in your area I highly recommend taking her class. We wish her the best as she begins this new chapter.

Stephanie has perfected the art of box making
and has made  hundreds of clam shell boxes
for our special collection material. Here
is a sample.

Written by Deborah Howe

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Baker Library in the Dartmouth College Photographic Files Collection

During the month of May, close to 1500 photographs of Baker Library were added to the Dartmouth College Photographic Files Collection. Included are many photos of the Baker Library building, interior and exterior, including its construction, as well as people that have worked here over many years. Here are some samples:

View a much larger selection here.

The Dartmouth College Photographic Files project began in early 2012 and is part of the Dartmouth Digital Collections. The project's goal is to make over 80,000 photographs stored in file cabinets in Rauner Special Collections available online. Images date from the early years of photography (ca. 1850s) to the present and include images of nearly all aspects of Dartmouth College life. To date there are over 36,000 photos from the collection online. We add approximetly 1,000 photographs to the collection every month. We are working through the photographs alphabetically and have reached the letter "M". See additional photographs of Feldbery Library; Dana Biomedical Library and Kresge Library.

If you have questions about the Photographic Files Collection contact Rauner Special Collections If you have questions about the ditital imaging of the collection contact William B. Ghezzi or Ryland Ianelli in the Digial Production Unit.

Written by William B. Ghezzi

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

American Institute of Conservation 43rd Annual Meeting

The American Institute of Conservation recently held its 43rd annual meeting in Miami, Florida 
from May 13 - May 16, 2015.

The AIC Web site states their mission:

 “As the only national membership organization in the United States dedicated to the preservation of cultural material, the American Institute for Conservation of Historic and Artistic Works plays a crucial role in establishing and upholding professional standards, promoting research and publications, providing educational opportunities, and fostering the exchange of knowledge among conservators, allied professionals, and the public.”

Annual meetings are structured for both general and specialty sessions. The general session talks target broad areas of interest and information on current conservation concerns, while the specialty sessions aim for more detailed talks in the specific subject areas such as: objects, paintings, electronic media, photographs, and book and paper. This year’s theme was “Practical Philosophy- Making Conservation Work".  I was fortunate to have my abstract - "The Brut Chronicle: Revived and Reconstructed", accepted for presentation to the Book and Paper group. The topic of my paper was based on a treatment I had done for the Brut manuscript, which was acquired by Rauner Library in 2006. The presentation covered the history of the manuscript, the conservation options, and how my interaction with scholars and its intended use informed the eventual treatment, and then details on the final outcome. Preparing for the talk was a lot of hard work and I relied on the help of my colleagues for input and critique. In the end it went well and I am pleased with having been able to share my ideas and treatment with the book conservation community.
Deborah Howe: The Brut Chronicle: Revived and Reconstructed

 As a side note, I was able to go on a behind the scenes tour of the Vizcaya Museum and Gardens.  It is an incredible house with beautiful gardens and I would highly recommend a visit there if you find yourself in Miami.

Written by Deborah Howe.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Illustration with a Knife

Recently I taught a class in our Book Arts Workshop on basic papercutting. This historic technique has many artistic possibilities. The resulting cut paper piece can be a finished artwork or used as a matrix for stenciling. Here is one approach you can try to begin cutting paper.

Step One:

Find or draw an image. Simplify your design, as this technique is easier, yet still effective, with basic shapes suggesting the represented item. You just need to provide your viewer with enough information to understand or identify the picture. Print or draw the image on a piece of photocopy or other thin paper at its final size.

Step Two:

Determine the cuts. At this point, you want to decide if your final cut paper design will be adhered to another background paper. If so, then you could let any counters (this is the typographic term for the interior of a letter, like the middle of an “O”) drop out because you can glue them down to the background paper. If the cut paper design will be used as it is (as an independent page or as a stencil) then you will need to make sure there are “bridges” to hold any counters in place (as shown here in the handle of the scissors). On your pattern darken the areas you wish to cut away, making sure you have enough paper left behind to keep the image stable once cut.

At this point you are still determining your final design, because the illustration and the paper’s structure are so interrelated. You will probably want to have some visual interest and dimension to your image. For instance, if cutting an apple shape, perhaps do something other than merely cutting out a slightly circular shape with a stem. Consider using a combination of thin lines, or ways to create your design with multiple smaller shapes or cuts, or suggesting light and shadow.

Step Three:

Once you have determined your cuts, tape the pattern down onto your final paper. I am using a 70lb black text weight paper, which cuts nicely but is still pretty stable. You’ll want both these papers to be oversized if possible, so the tape doesn't make any unwanted marks on your paper.

If you have a small self-healing cutting mat, tape the finished paper down to it. My 6” x 8” gray mat works well here because I can tape the papers to the mat and easily move them all together while cutting. If you only have a large cutting mat, don’t tape the papers down to the mat because it will be cumbersome to move the mat as you cut. Just move the paper. You can experiment and see what works best for you.

Step Four:

Prepare your knife. I like to use a knife with a pointed tip, such as a scalpel with a 23 or 25 blade, or an X-Acto with a number 11 blade, but a snap-off Olfa or hardware store knife works too. No matter what kind of knife you use, a very sharp blade makes cutting paper easier and safer. So start with a fresh blade and replace it as soon as you notice it moves through the paper with more resistance than when you began.

Step Five:

With all knife cutting, I suggest using the knife at a perpendicular angle to your body, in other words bringing the knife from top to bottom vertically to make the cut. Keep your “helping hand” away from the knife, either above or beside the action of the blade. Move the paper (and mat) to orient it so that you can cut in this manner, and keep moving the paper as needed to maintain this position. Not only will your body feel better after an hour of cutting, but you will have more control by using the knife this way.

Don’t hold your knife with too tight a grip. Try to keep your hand as relaxed as possible while cutting. Find a good balance between your knife’s position in the hand and maintaining enough pressure on the knife to make good cuts.

To begin cutting, remove the small pieces first. This keeps the paper stable for a longer period of time and helps retain the overall integrity of the larger sheet as paper is removed.

When cutting a straight line, use a straight edge (like a ruler) to guide your knife if possible. This helps make an even clean line as you cut.

At the point where two lines meet, cut from that point outward. In my example I would cut from the tip of the scissors towards the handle. This helps avoid overcutting past the point of intersection.

When cutting an arc or any circular shape, try moving the paper with the knife as you cut. Making many small cuts smoothly as your knife turns along the curved line can alleviate jagged edges. These can also be carefully trimmed later if not smooth enough.

Remember you are cutting through two sheets of paper: a pattern and the final paper. It’s best if you get through both layers with the first cut. You want to avoid cutting twice in the same spot. Rough edges and corners can be cleaned up later, but be careful not to pull on pieces too much when removing them in case any are still attached. Keep in mind that if the pattern isn't cut through and you have to pull to remove a pattern piece, then of course the paper underneath isn't cut through either.

Practice! The more you cut the better you get at it (like most things). I have a book artist friend who starts his day in the studio with some practice cutting before moving on to his artwork. He uses a lot of papercutting in his work and he’s really good at it, but he’s always working on his skills.

Step Six:

Once you've cut out your design remove the pattern and clean up any edges and corners as needed. As you do these additional small cuts, continue to cut while the paper is on the self-healing mat. Use the tip of your knife to trim away any excess paper uncut in the corner, remembering to cut from the corner outwards. A pair of scissors (especially curved blade nail scissors) can be useful to help smooth out any curved shapes if you can fit the blade into the area that needs trimming. If using scissors, of course pick up the paper to make those cuts.

Design cut with "bridges".

Design cut without "bridges" where counters drop out.

There are many resources for the art of cutting paper:

Contemporary artists using cut paper as their main medium include Beatrice Coron and Rob Ryan.

Henri Matisse also used cut paper in his work, often only using scissors, as a recent exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art highlighted.

Traditional German papercutting called Scherenschnitte is another technique to explore to learn other methods of papercutting.

Two recent books available in the Dartmouth College Library that include a gallery of papercutting are:

Gildersleeve, Owen. Paper Cut: An Exploration Into The Contemporary World Of Papercraft Art And Illustration. Beverly, MA: Rockport Publishers, 2014

Slash: Paper Under The Knife. New York: Harry N. Abrams, 2009.

Written by Stephanie Wolff

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Howe at AIC

Deborah Howe, Collections Conservator, will be presenting at the AIC's 43rd Annual Meeting in Miami, FL, on May 14.  Deborah's talk, The Brut Chronicle: Revived and Reconstructed, will address the process of rebinding a medieval manuscript for twenty-first century use.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Wauchipauka Pond / Webster Cliff Trails from Glencliff, New Hampshire

White Trilliums, a welcome sign of spring.
As winter finally makes its exit from New Hamphsire, my next hiking blog is one of a trail that I have done in spring many times over the past 20 years.   I will warn you, later in the spring is probably the most enjoyable time for this hike as the ground has mostly dried and the flying bugs haven’t yet become the bane of all who pass.

Starting from the large parking area on Route 25 in Glencliff, NH (8.5 miles east of the RT. 10/RT. 25 junction in Haverhill, NH) and heading south on the Appalachian Trail, the flat trail follows along the base of a small mountain (Wyatt Hill) for approximately ¼ mile before turning sharply right and climbing steeply and diagonally across the incline.  Along this part of the path are a few rocky outposts that have limited wooded views of the area below and to the north.  The steep climb is approximately ¾ of a mile, then the trail levels a bit. You will walk another 1/4 mile before reaching the height of the land, which is marked by a large, split rock.  Here you begin a slow descent through the hardwoods towards Wauchipauka Pond.  As you get lower in elevation and closer to the pond, Webster Cliff becomes visible, the path gets soggy, and the trail hugs the cliffs base staying above the sometimes murky and damp lowlands.  This area is the reason I like to wait until the snow is mostly gone from the woods.  At the base of the main cliff, a nearly hidden side trail veers off to the left of the trail and follows the ponds edge until coming to a wonderful camping spot on a prominent peninsula with fine views across the pond (really more of a lake in size).  If you miss the side trail, bushwacking to that point is easy to do.

Lady slippers on this trail are abundant.
Continuing along the Appalachian Trail above the pond, you start back uphill and cross an old logging road at  2.3 miles where the Webster Cliff Trail bears to the right with the Appalachian Trail continuing on towards  RT. 25A and Mt. Cube.

The Webster Cliff Trail (0.7 miles in all) is fairly rugged and quite steep for nearly a half mile, but has some really wonderful woodland flower beds and  random wildflowers, along with some other friends that would probably rather stay invisible.

Little froggie friend.

More beautiful lady slippers.

The trail levels out and after a short flat walk through scrub, you emerge to a superb lookout to the south of Wauchipauka Pond, Warren, Wentworth and on to Mt. Carr in the distance.
Looking down at the Wauchipauka Pond from Webster Cliff.
The round trip hike to the cliff is 6.0 miles and can be done easily during these longer and much warmer days.  I like to bring a hearty lunch for my stay at the top of the cliff. I hope you can venture out there as well.


Written by Brian Markee

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Preservation Week Webinars: April 26-May 2, 2015

Preservation Week is an annual celebration to highlight what organizations and individuals can do to preserve collections.  These webinars are available free of charge:

April 28th - Moving Image Preservation 101Sponsored by HF Group & George Blood, LP
This presentation covers the basic composition and history of film and video technology, particularly as it relates to formats found within personal and family collections. Tips and tricks for preserving your personal moving image materials will be addressed so that future generations can continue to enjoy your family movies and videos.
More information: http://www.ala.org/alcts/confevents/upcoming/webinar/042815

April 30th - Digital Preservation for Individuals and Small GroupsSponsored by Gaylord.
As technology changes, the greatest threat to preserving digital files is obsolescence. Files may get stuck on obsolete media or in some form that may become unusable in time. This webinar can help increase your understanding of what it takes to preserve commonly used digital files such photos, recordings, videos and documents. Learn about the nature of the digital-preservation challenge and hear about some simple, practical tips and tools to help you preserve your digital stuff.
More information: http://www.ala.org/alcts/confevents/upcoming/webinar/043015

May 1st - Disaster Response Q&A
Once a disaster strikes, the knee-jerk reaction is to rush in and save everything, but racing in without advance planning puts collections at risk of more damage and staff at risk of injury. This session will feature a live question-and-answer session. Participants will have an opportunity to comment on the recording of the 2010 webinar, "Disaster Response" and to ask questions of Nancy Kraft.
More information: http://www.ala.org/alcts/confevents/upcoming/webinar/050115

How to Register
There are no fees for these webinars, but you must register online.
For additional information and access to registration links, please go to the following website:

ContactFor questions or comments related to registration or the webinars, contact Julie Reese, ALCTS Events Manager at 1-800-545-2433, ext. 5034 or jreese@ala.org.

Thanks to the American Library Association, Association for Library Collections & Technical Services, Continuing Education Committee for this information.