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.

Monday, April 13, 2015

Merging Images in Photoshop, Part Two

While my first post in this series covered some basics of non-destructive image merging in Adobe Photoshop, this post aims to give you some tools to work with less ideal images.

A typical problem faced by many when attempting to merge images is how to deal with slight variations in your materials. These variations can be a result of the hardware you use (scanner or camera), lighting conditions, software, or a myriad other factors.

In this scenario I'll use an image from a scanned book that has a lighting problem. This is a very common difficulty when scanning books on a flatbed; the book's gutter will raise up from the scanner's surface, giving it a darker tone and distorting the content. Applying pressure to the book may work sometimes, but often we do not want to risk damaging our books (or, worst-case-scenario, our equipment) that way. Much safer to work digitally.

The first step is identifying the cutoff point where the gutter begins to negatively affect image quality. As you can see from this image. As always, make sure you've saved a master version before making any edits. 

Use the Rectangle Marquee tool to isolate the "safe zone" of the page, where the page's content is mostly unaffected by the gutter. Copy this selection and paste it into a new document with approximately the same dimensions as the original document. This is our new "base" document. I will usually put the word "EDIT" in its title somewhere so it won't be mistaken for the master.

In situations like this when we are dealing with an off-white paper, we'll want to make sure our background matches the paper's tone. Use the Eyedropper tool to select the page tone, and use the paint bucket to fill it in the background of the new base document.

What we are going to do next is create an amalgam of the image's two elements (page and background) to create a new version with improved legibility. To accomplish this we are going to use Photoshop's Layer Mask tool. Layer Mask is incredibly useful for photo editing, and best of all it is a non-destructive solution, meaning whatever you do with it can always be easily undone. The Layer Mask is very much what it sounds like: a layer placed on top of each image that can be "masked" or "unmasked," concealing or revealing the image's contents. Select the right side layer and click "Add Layer Mask" at the bottom of the Layer menu. You will now see a small white rectangle linked to that layer; that's your layer mask. The color white means "unmasked," so right now it's simply sitting on top of your original layer waiting for you to give it instructions.

Next, be sure you have the correct layer, AND your layer mask selected, or else you will alter the image itself. The Layer Mask functions in grayscale. Black is "masked," white is "unmasked," and grays are everything in between. Set your foreground color to black. Select the brush tool, and reduce the hardness to 0 (use whatever diameter you feel comfortable with). Check again to make sure you're still on your layer mask, and simply begin lightly touching up the problem spots along the gutter with your brush. Use single clicks rather than click-and-drag, that way you will make very minor adjustments while you get a feel for the technique.

As you can see, we've fixed the page to appear legible and flat. But be warned, this exact method won't work for every situation. If you have content that is deep in the book's gutters, you will likely have to accept a less-than-perfect image. However these techniques can still be used to improve the image quality in those situations, it is simply more difficult to get a "perfect" image. Vary your brush settings and color in the Layer Mask (experiment using a 50% grayscale) to find solutions that best suit your situation.

Written by Ryland Ianelli

Thursday, April 9, 2015

The Secret Revealed: 25 Years of the Book Arts Workshop

The 25th anniversary of the Book Arts Workshop is being celebrated with a number of activities open to the public.

EXHIBIT: Baker-Berry Library / Baker Main Hall: March 20 - June 5, 2015
Often called Dartmouth’s best-kept secret the Book Arts Workshop in Baker Library is celebrating its 25th anniversary.  Created in 1989-1990 by Edward Connery Lathem, '51, Rocky Stinehour, '50, and Mark Lansburgh, '49, three former students of Professor Emeritus Ray Nash, the studio is located in the former location of Nash’s Graphic Arts Program, Baker Library Room 21-23. From its early beginnings of letterpress instruction the workshop has grown to include book binding and curricular support of the arts of the book.

PRESENTATION & OPEN HOUSE: Baker-Berry Library/ April 10, 2015
In conjunction with the exhibit the The Friends of the Dartmouth College Library will host a talk by Louise Hamlin, George Frederick Jewett Professor in Art, "25 Years of the Book Arts Workshop and More to Come" Friday, April 10, 2015 at 4 pm in the Current Periodicals Room, Baker Library. A reception will follow in the Baker Library Main Hall. 

The Book Arts Workshop will be open on April 10 from 2-4 pm for guests to tour the studios and create a keepsake. Events are free and open to the public. 

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Structural Intervention: Treatment of Albums from the Iconography Collection

As a Samuel H. Kress Conservation Fellow, I have been spending my first post-graduate year revamping Rauner’s Iconography Collection. The Iconography Collection is an image-based collection which includes prints, photographs, negatives, albums, and various other materials.  In my initial survey of the collection I found that a number of the top treatment priorities were albums.  I decided to focus on treatment of these albums not only because they were in poor condition, but also because this allowed me to further explore my interest in album structures. 

Example of a damaged album discovered during the survey.

In conservation we try to preserve the original structure of the books we work with, but there are times when the original structure is inherently problematic and must be altered to prevent future damage. I have found that this is especially applicable to albums.  A common condition issue was that either one or both of the boards were detached. 

For the album shown below, I successfully reattached the boards and preserved the original structure of the album.  The detachment occurred between two of the front pages, and the spine covering had pulled away from the text block.  I cleaned the old adhesive from the inside of the spine covering and the spine of the text block, and then placed new linings on both.

Carte-de-visit album before treatment, showing detached front board.

 Here you can see that the new spine lining was used to successfully reattach the front board.
Carte-de-visit album after treatment, showing reattached front board.

However, for some of the other albums treated, such as the next example shown below, I decided that returning the album to its original structure was not the best solution.      
Carte-de-visit album before treatment, showing detached front pages 
and detached cover.

While I placed a new lining on the text block spine and attached the text block to the back cover, I chose to leave the front board detached. Reattachment would have made the album too difficult to open and would have caused it to break again in the same exact manner. 
Carte-de-visit album after treatment, showing reattached front pages and front cover 
left purposefully detached  (back cover has been attached to the text block).

My favorite album from the collection features stunning watercolors from 1857-58 made by Sir Henry Hugh Clifford, who was stationed in Canton, China an Assistant Quartermaster General in the British Army.  While Clifford was stationed in China to serve in the Second Opium War, his meticulous paintings capture serene and colorful landscapes and portray scenes of everyday life in China.

Watercolor painting by Sir Henry Hugh Clifford entitled "Chinese Junk"

As we are nearing the end of a long, cold winter, this album has been a treat to work with, and has led me to start fantasizing about warmer weather and beaches.

Watercolor painting by Sir Henry Hugh Clifford entitled "Sunset, Victoria".

Prior to treatment, the album was bound in a post-style binding.  After close examination, it became clear this was not the original binding structure and the cover did not add informational value to the object. 

Overall image of album: please note the significant amount of
surface dirt on the pages in the upper right.

Detail of post binding structure: cord strung through two holes through
text block and tied together, pages are not secure.

We decided that removing the album from the binding completely and storing the leaves in an enclosure was the best solution, because this will allow for easier access and prevent strain on the pages.  While dis-binding the album, I conducted dry surface cleaning of the pages to remove the highly noticeable, easily-transferable dirt.

Dry surface cleaning a page from Sir Henry Hugh Clifford's album using
cosmetic sponges.

Album page after surface cleaning.
Album page before surface cleaning.

Collectively, these treatments show that, while we strive toward minimal intervention, altering the structure of bound materials is sometimes the best course of action to prevent further damage. 

Written by Tessa Gadomski

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Smith & Wolff at the New Hampshire Institute of Art exhibit

Sarah Smith, Book Arts Special Instructor, and Stephanie Wolff, Assistant Conservator, both have work on display at the New Hampshire Institute of Art exhibit: Artists' Books: From A to Zine.

The exhibit runs until April 29, 2015 and is located in the Amherst Street Gallery of the Institute in Manchester, NH.