Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Digital Production Roundup

Sometimes great content comes through the Digital Production offices and we don't have a chance to share it. Here are a few of my favorite selections from recent shooting sessions:

"The Flayed Angel" by Jacques Fabien Gautier D'Agoty, available to view in Rauner Special Collections. Read more about it here

A design for a theatrical device by Denis Diderot, co-founder/chief editor/contributor to the Encyclop├ędie with Jean le Rond d'Alembert

Vintage ad from Dartmouth Alum Robert L. May's scrapbook. May created the Rudolph character in 1939; read more about him here

Concert posters from Dartmouth history, scanned for an exhibit in the Baker Berry Library: Fleshtones concert poster, 1983

Spring Formal poster with Duke Ellington

New Hampshire maps from the Evans Map Room, scanned as part of the Granite State Maps project

Map illustrations

Written by Ryland Ianelli

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Personnel Announcement

Tracey Dugdale, Preservation Assistant, has accepted the position of Electronic Resources Specialist in Acquisitions Services effective Sept. 15.  Even though her new workstation in Acquisitions is less than 50 ft. from her desk in Preservation we will feel the loss of her special skills.

Tracey can get anything done -- and if she can't she knows who can!  She serves as our blog wrangler and keeps the blog, Preservation, and Book Arts web pages up to date.  She handles commercial binding for Baker Berry Library and processes the binding for other libraries.  She hires and trains our students to do book repair  and shelf prep.  You can visit the Preservation Assistant position posting to get an idea of all the responsibilities.

It is a pleasure to work with Tracey and I am delighted that Dartmouth College Library is not losing her.

Best wishes Tracey!

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Assistant Conservator: Position Vacancy

Dartmouth College Library is seeking a collaborative and proactive Assistant Conservator to become an integral part of Preservation Services in support of their mission to conserve the Library’s physical collections.  In coordination with the Library’s Collections Conservator, the Assistant Conservator assists in the management of the daily workflow and production in the Conservation Lab.  The Assistant Conservator will perform conservation treatments on rare and special collection material ranging from simple to complex; develop and implement procedures and guidelines to manage work flow for material involved in digital production projects; assist in training practicum students and conservation interns; assist as consultant in exhibit preparedness for library materials.

RESPONSIBILITIES: Performs conservation treatment on rare and unique library materials, generally those requiring individual treatment. Materials include: books, manuscripts, albums, maps, and other flat work. Digital liaison for collection treatment workflow; accountable for treatments, developing and overseeing conservation workflow for all material needing treatment before and/or after digitizing; plans and coordinates projects with Collections Conservator, Special Collections staff, and the digital production team.

APPLICATION: Review of applications will begin as of August 24, 2015 and will continue until the position is filled. Applicants chosen for an onsite interview will be expected to bring a portfolio of work. For the complete job description and to apply online go to: http://jobs.dartmouth.edu and reference position # 0111201

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Lifelong Learning

Stephanie Wolff, Assistant Conservator, leaves Dartmouth as of July 31.  We will miss our colleague and friend but before she left she gifted us all with a final (and as always with Stephanie) educational blog post.

Farewell Stephanie! Don't be a stranger!

As I’ve worked in the fields of bookbinding and conservation colleagues have been generous in sharing knowledge and techniques. Not only in person, through conferences, workshops, and conversations, but by way of handouts, journal articles, blog posts, and videos. Over the years I have collected these kinds of resources (books included) to further my skills and knowledge. They range from websites to photocopies to simple drawn diagrams and sketches I’ve made while at an exhibition. These collected resources help expand my knowledge and allow me to try new techniques on my own.

While working here in the conservation lab at Dartmouth I gathered a notebook full of helpful techniques and other book and conservation resources. Here I’ve listed some of the ones that are available online in hopes they may prove useful to others as well. Included is a link to Peter Verheyen’s wonderful bookbinding bibliography for even more resources.

To all those who have shares their knowledge so generously, thank you.

The Guild of Book Workers - Go to Resources, then Handouts to find a variety of wonderful material, including the ones listed here.

Anderson, Jennifer. “Cloth Covered Book Cradles.” Abbey Newsletter. Volume 17, Number 7, December 1993.

Baird, Brian and Mick Letourneaux. “Treatment 305: A Collections Conservation Approach to Rebinding.” The Book and Paper Group Annual. AIC. Volume Thirteen, 1994.

Barrios, Pamela. “A Method for Reblocking Modern Books.” The Bonefolder. Volume 4, Number 1, Fall 2007. p. 35.

Cullhed, Per. “The 5-Minute Phase Box.” The Abbey Newsletter. Volume 24, Number 2, October 2000.

Eldridge, Betsy Palmer. Stitches and Sewings for Bookbinding Structures. GBW and CBBAG, 2008.

Espinosa, Robert and Pamela Barrios. “Joint Tacketing: A Method of Board Reattachment.” The Book and Paper Group Annual. AIC. Volume Ten, 1991.

Etherington, Don. “Japanese Paper Hinge Repair for Loose Boards on Leather Books.” Abbey Newsletter. Volume 19, Number 3, August 1995.

Kellar, Scott. “The Inserted Flange Case Binding Structure for Rebinding Heavy Folios Without Leather.” The Abbey Newsletter. Volume 7, Number 6, Dec 1983.

Kellar, Scott. “The Laced Limp Paper Binding.” The Abbey Newsletter. Volume 6, Number 1, Feb 1982.

Krupp, Andrea. “The Library Company’s Corrugated Clamshell Box.” The Abbey Newsletter. Volume 15, Number 6, October 1991.

Kyle, Hedi. Handout from the presentation: Wunderkabinette: Architectural Book Environments (includes Preservation Enclosures: Wrappers, Boxes, Slipcases, Folders, as well as other inventive structures), 2005.

Minter, William. “Spiral Bindings in Hardcover: An Alternative to Rebinding.” The Abbey Newsletter. Volume 21, Number 5, 1997.

Rebsamen, Werner. “Gebrochener Ruecken (Shaped Spine Case-Binding Techniques).” The Abbey Newsletter. Volume 11 Number 3, April 1987.

Smith, Wendy. “The Ferguson Slipcase.” The Abbey Newsletter. Volume 13, Number 5, September 1989.

Syracuse University Libraries: Department of Special Collections, Conservation Lab Treatment Manual Series. Information on Conservation Recase, Molded Paper Spine Binding, Paper Spine for Thin Volumes, Phase Boxes, Corrugated Board Clamshell Box 

Verheyen, Peter D. German Case (Bradel) Binding, Originally published 2002, re-written with new illustrations 2006. Published in Skin Deep, Volume 22 - Fall 2006.

Verheyen, Peter D. Bookbinding Bibliography.

Written by Stephanie Wolff

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

The ABCs of Digital Preservation

April 27 through May 1 of this year marked the American Library Association's 5th Annual Preservation Week. To celebrate, I gave a talk for library staff titled The ABC's of Digital Preservation. The purpose of the talk was to introduce some basic digital preservation concepts, such as choosing file formats, file naming best practices, and the basics of preservation metadata. I also discussed some tools and models for managing digital materials, and tried to demystify some of the acronyms I throw around casually in meetings ("If we follow OAIS, the SIP could contain a TIF and some PREMIS and or METS, and of course the AIP will need an md5...").  You can view the slides of the talk here. 

The talk was well attended, and I got a lot of good feedback and follow-up questions. In this blog post, I'd like to address these questions, and talk about some resources to learn more about topics discussed in my presentation.

First, I'll start with some general resources...

In creating and organizing my presentation, I was inspired by the North Carolina Department of Cultural Resource's Digital Preservation Best Practices and Guidelines. It's a great resource and an excellent starting point.

Read through the archives and follow The Signal, the digital preservation blog of the Library of Congress. They highlight a lot of amazing projects covering all aspects of digital preservation.

Also, the North East Document Conservation Center has some great resources.

Now, on to your questions...

1. Is there a list of file formats defining their function that I could reference?

Yes! The Library of Congress developed this great resource for file format descriptions. The South Carolina Department of Archives and History also has a nice resource on File Formats.

2. Could you point me toward a bibliography of good guides for organizing photographs (or perhaps a workshop)?

Library of Congress's Personal Digital Archiving project has a good, succinct guide to archiving digital photos. Here's another great resource created by MLIS students at Catholic University of America for Preservation Week. Mike Ashenfelder also wrote a great blog post on The Signal answering questions about digital photo archiving (you should check out the webinar he references as well!) And finally, here is an amazing resource for digging into embedding metadata in digital images.

3. Can you tell me more about the Digital POWRR Tool Grid?

"The POWRR Tool Grid v2 provides a set of interactive views designed to help practitioners identify and select tools that they need to solve digital preservation challenges. This Grid is based on the Tool Grid first developed by the Digital POWRR Project, and combines the form and function of the original POWRR grid with the far greater coverage of tools provided by the COPTR data feed."

4. What are the current archival standard for image scans- resolution and bit depth?

The Federal Agencies Digitization Guidelines Initiative (FADGI!) has an excellent document that goes into great detail providing best practices for image scans:  Technical Guidelines for Digitizing Cultural Heritage Materials .  ALTCS, a division of ALA, has also published a helpful guide for Minimum Digitization Capture Recommendations for many types of media.

5. What are the best practices for preserving video files (ideal formats, codecs, etc.)?

Choosing a file format and codec for video preservation master files is complex. A lot depends on available resources, technological expertise, and the context in which files are created and managed. FADGI has done an excellent analysis of the issues involved in their report Digital File Formats for Digital Tape Reformatting. For best practice guidelines for creation and management of digital video, I really love the Activist's Guide to Archiving Video.

6. Bagit …. wait, what?
Check out this video from the Library of Congress. Another place to learn more is Bagit's wikipedia page. And if your ready to use BagIt, you can download it on Github.

7. What to do if a preservation copy has changed? Can you fix it?
Hopefully, you'll have multiple copies of a file, and the preservation copy can be replaced with a "good" one. For situations where this isn't the case, someone with expertise in the file format should be able to address the issue, as explained by @dericed:

8. What are some best practices or tools for data preservation?

A good place to start would be the How-to Guides and Checklists from the Digital Curation Centre. Then read through the rest of their website -- its a gold-mine of information on curating digital research! Library of Congress has recommended formats for datasets and databases, as well as a report on evaluating file formats for datasets and information on types of dataset file formats. Stanford also has a good guide covering many aspects of digital curation for research data. SCAPE is a project of the Open Preservation Foundation that develops software tools and training materials for large scale data preservation.

Written by Jenny Mullins

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Storage Housings for Cased Photographs


The Iconography Collection, which I have been working with this year, includes many non-traditional items, such as paintings and three dimensional objects, as well as items of various sizes. As this is a library, most of our storage spaces are divided into typical library shelving, and it can sometimes be a challenge with this type of collection to keep items in the desired order while using the available space efficiently and providing proper protection for the objects. This subject was also addressed in the recent Northwestern University "Beyond the Book" Blog Post by Stephanie Growler, entitled "Fitting In: Storing Objects in Library Stacks" .

I was inspired by this blog post to create a folder structure, similar to the one depicted for petri dishes, during my rehousing project for a collection of cased photographs within the Iconography Collection. While this group of cased photographs is considered a single item, as it is cataloged under one item number, Iconography 1507, it includes over 75 cased photographs, mainly daguerreotypes and ambrotypes and a few tintypes.

Ambrotype on the left, daguerreotype on the right, missing cases.

Example of an ambrotype in an unusual case with two openings.

I wanted to improve the housing because the cased photographs were placed haphazardly in two boxes and were housed in poor quality envelopes. They were not properly enclosed or protected and were poorly organized, which increased the risk of damage and dissociation.

Iconography 1507 Box 1, cased photographs stored in envelopes.

The Challenges

- Utilize the same exterior boxes so that the objects will occupy the same space on the shelves.

- Objects needed to be stored vertically. Housing objects horizontally was not the best option for the space, given the large number of small items, and the objects needed to stay in the same place on the shelves in order to maintain chronological order.

- Housing items individually on the shelves was not ideal because this would have resulted in many small, loose items, as well as inefficient use of the space.

- Standardize the housing for a majority of the objects. Most objects were 3 3/4" x 4 3/4" or smaller, but several were larger.

- Keep the objects in alphabetical order within the boxes while meeting other goals.

- Create secure, durable enclosures with archival (non-damaging) materials.


-Decided to modify pre-made folders to fit approximately 2 cased photographs per folder, with two folders fitting next to each other inside of the box. This allows for enough protection while taking up less space than pre-made standardized boxes. Using pre-made folders also saves time and expense.

        - Bonus: Only 3 items did not fit inside the chosen folder size, which meant the folders could be           mostly standardized. Out of 35 folders, only 3 required larger dimensions.

Overall view of modified folder containing two cased photographs.
-Used blue corrugated board scraps for the walls of the boxes. This gave me the opportunity
to use up many scraps, while providing added protection for the objects.

-Added Volara on lids, custom fit to the individual compartments, to create added support and pressure.

-Added Mylar strips to lift cased photographs up and out of compartments, or thumb-slots if possible.

-Embedded Velcro in walls of folder. This allows the folder to be flush on all sides and does not
take up more space. However, the Velcro is time-consuming to attach. We used PVA which took a long time to dry, and was not always immediately successful if not enough PVA was used.

Interior view, showing two daguerreotypes.

Once I had completed a prototype and determined a workflow, Deborah Howe and Stephanie Wolff helped to make many folders, which made the project go quickly!

Deborah Howe and Stephanie Wolff helping to make custom folders.

Tips for batch construction of folders

1. First group the cased photographs in pairs according to alphabetical order and size to determine the      number and size of folders needed.

2. If trimming the folders so that two will fit adjacent in the box, do not use the spine to square the         edge! The spines are cloth and are irregular. Use the boards only, otherwise you can end up with off-square, irregular folders.

3. Calculate the number of strips of corrugated board you will need in which sizes, then cut these
    standardized pieces accordingly. This takes time, but it is worth it. Extras are also good idea.
         a. In general, avoid making strips thinner than 1 inch. If walls need to be thinner than this,                        then turn on their sides.
         b. Avoid leaving space in the joints between the walls, and make sure the walls are as flush as                  possible.

4. Use a tape gun or double-sided tape to build walls from corrugated wall pieces.

5. When attaching the walls to the folder use PVA. At first I attached to the bottom of the folder            using double-sided tape, but found this resulted in an unstable structure. PVA in the joints between     the walls is also key.

6. Cut space on top of a wall for Velcro, and use sandpaper on lid to make slightly rougher surface.         Attach with PVA and weight. This will likely need about 8 hours to dry, but longer is always               better.

7. It is recommended that you allow the Volara to dry under a good amount of weight, then close the       box and weight more. Otherwise, you can may get a lot of warping of the lid.

The design may be modified slightly (and easily) to accommodate cased photographs of different sizes:

In the end, we made 35 folders. Of these, 16 folders were exactly the same inside and out, 32 have the same exterior dimensions. Only 3 needed larger folders, which are oriented horizontally.

Both boxes, filled with cased photographs in new folders.

Written by Tessa Gadomski

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