Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Hidden Gem to Mt. Washington

To start off the New Year, my trail blog will focus on New Hampshire's tallest peak, Mt. Washington (6288 ft.) and the Jewell Trail, described by many hikers as the "easiest" route to the summit, if gaining almost 3900 ft. in elevation over a 5 mile hike is to be considered easy.

Located to the northeast of the Upper Valley area, one approaches Mt. Washington from its western side on Rt. 302.  The Mt. Washington Hotel, situated 1/4 mile east of Base Rd., is well worth the short detour.  The Base Rd. leads to a parking area/trailhead (approx. 3 miles) for the Jewell and Ammonoosuc Ravine Trails, and continues on to the Cog Railroad Station and the several trains that summit Washington.

The Jewell Trail leaves the parking area by crossing the road and descends gently into the forest for about a mile to a small brook.  Crossing Clay Brook on a wooden footbridge, the trail almost immediately begins its long (3.7 mile), steady-but-moderate climb through the woods along an un-named ridge.  This ridge parallels the Cog Railway tracks on the opposing ridgeline across Burt Ravine.  At the 3 mile mark, the trees begin to shorten and thin to open rocks with elevation gain, allowing for fine views towards the summit and across the ravine to the railroad.  The Jewell Trail has a few switchbacks beneath the summit of Mt. Clay and eventually ends at the junction with the Gulfside Trail.  The route to Mt. Washington along the Gulfside Trail (1.4 miles) is a bit easier in grade, very open, and has stunning views.

It is the most direct route, but there are many boulders to manage as you cross the rail tracks and ascend the summit.

During my rest at the summit on a gorgeous 75 degree August day, there was a whole lot of action at about noontime.  Along with the many tourists and sightseers who either drove or took the train up, a police helicopter actually flew beneath me while the trains were making their way either up or down the mountain.  Not what I had expected to say the least!  After resting at the summit house and cafeteria (yes, a cafeteria) I worked my way back down along the same route and went to the edge of the Great Gulf (hence the Gulfside Trail) to sit alone on a big rock and enjoy the quiet and the amazing view.

As always when hiking to the open, rocky summits of our largest east coast mountains, please be prepared for the worst kind of weather (unusually cold temps, high winds, rain storms etc.) and bring plenty of food and water as one shouldn't count on the summit cafe′ for a good meal.

Written by Brian Markee

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Minor Disaster Mitigation in Paddock

We are fortunate at Dartmouth to be without many disasters in the library.  So, naturally, the weekend before our holiday break on the coldest day (so far) this winter, a pipe burst in the HOP and the resulting flood accumulated in the basement; the location of the Paddock Music Library.  Preservation and Facilities staff were informed immediately, and the Facilities staff quickly mitigated the water damage to the walls, floors, and ceilings.  The following Monday morning, myself and the department head went over to assess the damage to the collection.

What we discovered was only one cabinet of CDs had been affected by the leak.  Water levels were different in each drawer of the cabinet, leaving some CDs completely soaked and others damp from the ambient moisture.  We packed collapsible crates with all the CDs from the cabinet and brought them back to the lab to dry out.

Back at the lab, after some brief research on CD salvage (http://cool.conservation-us.org/waac/ttl/wn27-3-salvage at a glance.pdf for a very abbreviated explanation) and gleaning information from our own disaster plan, I opened each CD case and popped the disc and paper pamphlet out, propping each CD case up to let the air fully circulate.  I saw this demonstrated in a video about an unfortunate disaster after Hurricane Sandy that affected a lot of different media at a facility in New York City.  The short video can be seen here: https://vimeo.com/53849333

Drying the CDs out on our tables in Preservation.

Because the water that leaked in to Paddock was clean, (phew!) rinsing each of the CDs in distilled water was unnecessary.  Jones Media Center was kind enough to lend us some cloths to dry the very wet items that they use on their DVD collection.

To keep track of what could easily become chaos, our department head, Jenny, scanned the items that were in the lab to be able to keep track of numbers.  We had over 900 items to dry!  Due to table space constraints, it took two rounds of lining up the CDs as pictured to fully dry every item.  The truly unfortunate paper components which were too soaked to pull the pages apart went in to the freezer.
Soaked items placed in the freezer to dry out without getting moldy.
Jenny scans in all the items.
As I put each of the CD cases back together and popped the disc in, I sorted them in to crates labeled "OK" and "Not OK," for lack of creativity.  "Not OK" was only two crates (a little over 200 items) and returned to Paddock to be assessed by the music librarian for replacement.  The remainder of the dried items were "OK" and have returned to their home in Paddock, which is once again dry thanks to Facilities staff.
"Not OK" wet/damaged CDs
With some coordinated team effort, a minor disaster is just that; minor.  Our Disaster Manual in the lab illustrates all the steps needed to mitigate any kind of disaster in the library, because events like this are stressful and the damage can seem irreparable-which isn't true!  The change of pace for a short-term project like this reminds me how the library is more kinetic than we realize and that anything can happen.  As a bonus, I also had the opportunity to familiarize myself with Czech hip hop and traditional Cree songs and will no doubt find myself in Paddock more often to explore its vast collection.

Written by Lizzie Curran

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Guild of Bookworkers: Charleston South Carolina

Being a book conservator and binder I am afforded the opportunity to belong to a great group of people and one of the yearly venues to get together is the Guild of Bookworkers Standard of Excellence Conference, held in different cities.  This year I was able to attend in Charleston, SC.  This was my first time there and I came away ready to return.  I attended the four presentations which make up the bulk of the conference, which links are listed below.

Cheryl Jacobsen: Calligraphy

Chela Metzger Erin Hammeke: Pennsylvania Liturgical Bindings

Becky Palmer Eldridge: Conservation Treatments Revisited 

Deborah Evetts: Herrnhuter Paste Papers

Some of the highlights outside of the presentation were the reception, which was held in the foyer of Charleston Society Library and an impromptu visit to a historical house which contains offices for the University but still retains its beauty as seen below. 

Chandelier in historical house.
I was able to go on a tour of the Special Collections of the University, where they had many of the unique items on display...

A popup book from the Special Collections of the University.
...and get some good walking time in exploring this beautiful city.

A street view of a church.
An arch on campus square.
 The presentation as always, were informative and interesting.

Chela and Erin presenting on Pennsylvania Liturgical Bindings.
Weaving a strap with a simply made device.
Betsy giving some tips on paper repair.

An example of paste paper made by Deborah Evetts.

Pasting out a sheet of paper ready for a design.

Examples of Herrnhuter paste papers by Deborah Evetts.

Written by Deborah Howe

Monday, December 5, 2016

Jippensha Ikku and the Hizakurige

I have written a post already on one comic within Dartmouth's digital collections.  When confronted with the task of writing another post, one of the most difficult tasks, of course, is deciding what to write about.

It has been said (by me) that inspiration is the writer's currency.  Or maybe it's more like energy.  It's a delicious sandwich, that enriches the writer with the nutrients necessary to build literary structures.  As such, if I'm to write anything I must search high and low for the perfect object, that unique artifact that can act as Mona Lisa to my da Vince.  Such inspiration can be rare, and the pursuit of such a thing can be daunting in its own right.  I scroll down four entries on the library digital collections page.  Perfect.

The Tokaidochu Hizakurige, translated to A Shank's Mare Tour of the Tokaido, is a picaresque novel told in twelve parts.  It was written by Shigeta Sadakazu under the pen name Ikku Jippensha and has been called "the most humorous and entertaining book in the Japanese language."  An impressive claim, perhaps outdated, but nonetheless- pretty good.  It tells the tale of two travelers, Yajirobi and Kitahachi, as they make pilgrimage from Edo (now called Tokyo) to Kyoto along the Tokaido, the primary road between those places, and the subject of much attention from artists of the time.  While the Hizakurige is a comic novel, it also functions as travel guide to those who would attempt the trek.

Sadakazu was a prolific writer during the Edo period, producing a minimum of twenty novels per year between 1795 and 1801.  Despite the abundance of his work, relatively little is known of him.  He lived in Edo primarily, in the service of samurai.  Several stories exist detailing his eccentricities, although they are largely considered to be apocryphal.  According to one account, Sadakazu instructed his pupils to, upon his death, cremate him along with several mysterious packets.  Supposedly these packets were filled with fireworks, which reacted as one would expect when placed in the fire.

Like their creator, the two main characters of the hizakurige got up to all manner of mischief.  Yaji and Kita, as they are often called, can easily be compared to well-known picaresque duos in the west, like Don Quijote and Sancho Panza or Huck Finn and Jim.  W.G. Aston, a scholar of Japanese
linguistics and history, compared them to Bottom the weaver and Falstaff from the works of Shakespeare.  "Prove it," you say.  "How could any characters compete with the beloved Don Quijote and Sancho Panza," you say.  Allow me to give you some examples.

In one story Yaji and Kita come to a river to find two blind men in discussion.  One man agrees to carry the other across, and our two heroes decide to take advantage of this agreement for their own benefit.  Yaji is able to deceive the man and substitute himself, making it across the river dry.  However, when Kita attempts to do the same he is discovered and thrown into the river midway.

In another story the two come across a medium on the road.  She gives Yaji a message from his deceased wife which frightens him terribly.  However, he is further terrified when the medium proposes that the spirit pay him regular friendly visits.

What time and place could produce such characters, you ask?  Allow me to describe it briefly.  The Edo period, defined by the rule of the Tokugawa Shogunate, lasted from 1603 to 1868.  This was the last feudal military government of Japan, which ended with the consolidation of power by Emperor Meiji, a process known appropriately as the Meiji Restoration.  The Tokugawa Shogunate was a feudal government, and as such Japanese society possessed a clearly stratified social structure during the period of its influence.  The return to imperial power began the steps to modernity, and this shift to a modern, metropolitan mindset can be seen in the sense of superiority that Yaji and Kita feel toward the rural countrymen that they meet throughout their travels.

The sample within our collection depicts the journey from Edo to Hamamatsu on one side, and Hamamatsu to Osaka on the other.  It's illustrated by Tamenobu Fujikawa in the ukiyo-e style, a style popular from the seventeenth through nineteenth centuries.  The famed Great Wave of Kanagawa is also in this style.  This style would later be instrumental in Japonism, the influence of the Japanese aesthetic which would inspire many of the early impressionists.  These include Dega, Manet, and Monet, and later van Gogh, who collected a large number of pieces in this style.  It would later impact the development of art nouveau, through the likes of Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec among others. 

The famous Utagawa Hiroshige, considered the last great master of the ukiyo-e style, was similarly inspired by the Tokaido.  It's featured in a number of his works, including The Fifty-Three Stations of the Tokaido, a work devoted to it in its entirety.

Particularly noticeable within the works of Hiroshige, and other ukiyo-e artists, are the striking landscapes which seem to capture the breathless life of distant natural beauty.
Fujikawa's images juxtapose the jocular content of the Hizakurige.  Without being told, one might not guess the nature of the story at all.  That the two can co-exist, the gently sloping hills and swaying grasses, and the buffoonish Yajirobi and Kitahachi, perhaps reveals insight into the strange holism of our world.

More information on Jippensha Ikku can be found in A History of Japanese Literature by W.G. Aston.  Our physical copy of the Tokaidochu Hizakurige can be found in Rauner's Special Collections.

Written by Kevin Warstadt

Monday, November 14, 2016

Now What Was I Doing?

Dartmouth's Book Arts Workshop's Sarah Smith is exhibiting her daily drawing project at The Main Street Museum in White River Junction, Vermont, beginning with a reception and artist talk from 5-8 on November 4th and running through November 28th.  Sarah gave herself the task of creating and posting one drawing every day for a year.  On exhibit are some 200+ drawings from the project, as well as drawings from the previous year's six-month attempt.
You can see all the drawings on Sarah's Tumblr site at: http://olfactorypress.tumblr.com/ 

This is how Sarah describes the project and process:

I started this project in an attempt to get myself to draw more.  I used to draw all the time, but as I got more involved with letterpress and writing, my work became more about words and found images.
Now I'm interested in getting back to drawing and combining it with the textual/typographic work.  But first I needed to rebuild my confidence in drawing after many years of not drawing (at least not publicly).

Inspired by prolific artists and friends like Haig Demarjian, Justin Durand, the concept of "Inktober" and a student from the Center for Cartoon Studies who told me they have to draw every day, I decided to give it more of a concerted effort than I did in the past.  However, I found that I needed an extra incentive to keep going.  Posting the drawings online everyday works best, as fear of public shame keeps me on task.

I never intended the drawings to be a daily comic, but posting the images and getting feedback tends to steer the ideas a bit.  I found I was drawing things people would "get".  I wasn't happy with that my first time around and I quit after six months. 
I also felt like I wasn't tending to bigger projects.  Before long after quitting though, I realized how much I missed that time I spent every day with a brand new idea and mini project.  The bigger projects weren't happening - or at least not as much as I intended anyway.  I decided to go back to the daily drawings and posting every day.

During the second time around - that resulted in a full year - I didn't worry as much about whether I was pleasing the audience or not.  I posted with a week delay, so I had a chance to tweak an idea or quickly sketch something if I didn't have the time or energy to finish a drawing.  The pressure was a little lighter this way and I wasn't staying up as late.

It was interesting to see what ideas came from no plans - sometimes just pointing in the dictionary and drawing from the selected word - or from something someone said that day, or from something that's been on my mind.  It's also interesting to recognize common threads, where I might not have otherwise.  For example, I had no idea how many clowns were in the back of my mind.  Or how argumentative the objects in my house were.
I haven't worried much about "style" or being consistent about the materials I use.  This has been a chance to try out a few new things as well as get reacquainted with some old methods.  Some drawings will lead to bigger projects - books or relief prints perhaps.  Some drawings are best left as they are - evidence of the process and working, but not examples of my best work.  Not being precious and expecting everything to be fantastic, useful or more than an exercise has always been difficult for me.  This project has helped me get past this, but I still have a long way to go.

I miss the daily practice again now.  So I'll be up to something again soon.

Written by Sarah Smith

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Marcus Design Books

Sometimes when an institution digitizes an object from their collections, the book, manuscript, or other piece of ephemera in question is disposed of afterwards.  It might be that physical storage is not available, or the cost of a conservation treatment is prohibitive.  In other cases, once the content has been saved digitally, ownership of the actual book itself might be deemed unnecessary.  However, a digitization project does not always spell the end of its physical counterpart.  In fact, it is sometimes the very thing that casts new light upon a long forgotten artifact.

Such was the case with the Marcus Design Books.  This collection consists of 8 volumes that once belonged to Marcus and Co., a jewelry firm that operated in New York City between 1892-1962.  Each volume contains a series of intricately rendered pen and ink drawings that have been adhered to the bound pages.  Representing the years 1890-1910, the drawings feature a wide array of jewelry designs including brooches, necklaces, and hair ornaments.

When they originally made their way to Dartmouth, the Marcus Design Books were housed in the Jewelry Department, where they served as reference materials for the students.  The books were later very nearly disposed of before ultimately being acquired by the library, where they were processed and cataloged.

This might have been the end of the story, until the Metropolitan Museum of Art learned of their existence.  It was at their request that the entire set was pulled from the library's stacks and brought to the conservation lab where they could be repaired before undergoing digitization.

During my time as the summer conservation intern at the Dartmouth College Library, I had the privilege of assisting with the conservation treatment of the Marcus Design Books.

First, each book was surface cleaned with Absorene sponges.  As you can see, they were quite dirty!

After the surface dirt was removed, any tears that were present were mended with Japanese tissue and wheat starch paste.  Additionally, each volume had an accompanying envelope filled with drawings that had fallen out over time.  Throughout the process of cleaning and mending, these drawings were returned to their original positions as faithfully as possible. 

It was not an easy task, as each drawing's proper location was not always evident.  However, much like putting a puzzle together, the context of the image and the shape of the residue left behind by the old adhesive often indicated where a drawing belonged.

 After the text blocks were repaired, the exteriors were reinforced.  Several of the books were missing spine pieces.

The spines were subsequently cleaned and relined, before being fitted with a new exterior piece.

Another aspect of repairing the exterior of the book involved consolidating the delaminated book board on the sides and corners, and lining them with cloth and Moriki, a heavy weight Japanese tissue.

After the conservation treatment was complete, the Marcus Design Books were delivered to the Northeast Document Conservation Center in Andover, Massachusetts where they would be digitized before being returned to the library.

Written by Rebecca Metois

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Personnel Announcement

We've had a bit of musical chairs here in the Library.

Beginning September 1st, 2016 Barb Sagraves, Head of Preservation Services, began her new role of Interim Associate Librarian for Information Services. This is due to the departure of Eliz Kirk, who accepted the position of Associate University Librarian for Scholarly Resources in the Harvard University Library.

Filling in for Barb is Jenny Mullins, Digital Preservation Librarian, who also began her new role of Interim Head of Preservation Services on September 1st, 2016. Jenny will support staff in Conservation, Preservation and Digital Production, while continuing to build the Digital Preservation program for the Library.

Barb and Jenny will hold these interim positions through January, 2017.