Hello, this is Arini Esarey, the current book conservation intern from North Bennet Street School. I graduated from North Bennet in June and am thrilled to have these several months at Dartmouth to practice what I’ve learned in school and learn new treatments. One of the many interesting things about this lab is that Deborah and Stephanie got their bookbinding and conservation training from places other than North Bennet, so some of their methods are slightly different than what I learned. Perfect! That’s exactly what I hoped to find by studying with different people after finishing school.
Recently, Deborah and I sat down and talked about the course of the internship; what I have already completed and what lies ahead. There’s been immense freedom here to work on projects of personal interest and I’m so grateful for that. We made a two-page list of treatments to get through and are steadily checking them off. They range from basic to complex repairs of items from General Collections and Special Collections. To list a sampling: pamphlet resewing, Japanese tissue hinge repairs, spine repairs, board tacketing, production/batch work, paper deacidification, Ultrasonic encapsulation, disbinding books, and housing unusual items.
Some of the more memorable projects I’ve worked on have been treating a brittle volume of A Parody on Iolanthe; a printers proof copy of Indiana Home, written by a distant relative of mine, Logan Esarey (that was a thrill to run across); disbinding volumes of early 19th Century Medical Theses from the Dartmouth Medical School; housing a splinter of a wooden goalpost from the 1935 Dartmouth vs. Yale football game; and more recently, a set of cloth rebacks repaired using the method Todd Pattison detailed in his presentation at the Guild of Book Workers Standards of Excellence Seminar.
A Parody on Iolanthe
Some of the pages were very brittle and others were not, so we decided to deacidify all pages, encapsulate the brittle ones, and leave loose the others. I rebound the book in its original boards with some modifications to account for the larger size of the encapsulated pages.
Pattison’s technique is interesting because the original spine pieces are torn off, rather than cut. This helps to make a more seamless, subtle repair. The outermost layer of Japanese tissue is toned on the book with acrylics to get a perfect color match. Doing these four in quick succession got me over my fear of coloring on the book and I quite like it now.
Some of the handwritten scripts in the medical theses are gorgeous. Aren’t the title flourishes beautiful?! I’m a little bit jealous that they could hand write such short theses (they are anywhere from 2-20 pages) with no citations or references. Stephanie found one today that even included a postscript. Oh, how times have changed.
I should mention that in addition to conservation work this internship includes individual meetings with staff from different departments and tours of departments and libraries on campus. As much as I do love bench work, it’s been valuable to step away and see how conservation work fits into the larger scope of the library. For example, I’ve sat in on meetings with Special Collections to determine treatment plans for items in the library and met with others to learn how Preservation Services fits into the current digitization projects.
We’ve also had special guests come to us. Malcolm Summers gave us a daylong tutorial on gold tooling and Anna Embree spent a few days with us showing us conservation tricks, how to repair our board shears, and general shop talk. There has been a great sense of community here in the department, the library as a whole, and region. My time here has been filled with bench work, hands-on demonstrations, lively discussions, and good music. Thanks everyone.
Written by Arini Esarey