One of the great things about my job is the chance to work collaboratively with many people across the library system, especially my colleagues in Rauner Special Collections.
One of the more recent projects we addressed was reevaluating the housing and use of Dartmouth's Dr. Seuss collection. This collection is from Theodor Geisel’s early days of advertising, and consists of many varied items.
The collection had been assembled over a period of time and so some of the items were stored in folders and then placed in boxes, some were matted and then placed in a sturdy box, and other items were simply loose in a box.
In order to assess the collection for housing needs with anticipated use in mind, we met with the person in charge of the collection and the person who oversees the care of it. Here we are looking at the different type of materials to see what there is:
Being able to discuss how the collection will be used is valuable information to have when deciding what type of housing to create. For instance, a collection of copy work ready for press had all been matted in very thick mats and then housed in a heavy box. These items didn’t need to be framed, and through discussion with the staff it was decided to remove the art from the mats and store it in a file folder, thus making it easier to use and freeing up quite a lot of space.
Some items, such as the one I'm looking at in the picture above, had good housing like this Mylar cover. However, the Mylar sleeve was open on three sides, which meant the item kept slipping out of it during use. So we were able to seal up one of the sides to create an “L” sleeve using our ultrasonic encapsulation machine. At the same time, we fabricated other Mylar sleeves for some of the over-sized items, such as the “Flit” poster seen above, which was taken out of the black matting.
This is a small group of similar material that needed to stay together, so we re-foldered it and placed it in a document folder. Without input and information from the curators, such as which items need to remain together, it can be impossible to make the best choice when it comes to deciding on the proper housing needs.
This last item will be a challenge but certainly a fun one. This is a bottle stop that needs to stand upright, in full view, so that it doesn’t have to be handled. I will construct an armature to hold it upright and fabricate a box which will also function as a display stand.
With projects like this, where functionality and use play an important role in the treatment decision, it is crucial to have good communication with the people who use the material. Thinking outside the box can often result in innovative and creative solutions, which is an exciting process that builds on communication and positive team work.
Written by Deborah Howe.