Thursday, March 09, 2006

Rumors of my Demise...
Preservation, Shelving, Etc.

No, I'm not dead.

Due to a rather exhausting work schedule, I haven't had much time to blog this week. I should be able to get caught up by this weekend.

A few things from the ol' ZenFo Pro daily existence I thought I'd share...

If you work in a library that utilizes older shelving systems, please take a moment to appreciate perhaps the 20th Century's greatest advancement in storage technology - adjustable welded-frame steel shelving. I had to take a reciprocating saw to three rows of older, bolt assembly shelving, burning up four metal blades simply because the thousands of nuts and bolts holding the suckers together were all corroded or stripped to the point of no return.

If you're thinking about donating to a library in the near future...

Don't donate wood shelving. Thank goodness I haven't run into this stuff in a long time. Wood may look nice, but it offgases, the varnishes used in consumer grade library products are often chemically volatile and can harm materials, and, well, they invite numerous unwanted organic pests into an environment. Wood shelving is neither portable enough or durable enough to get the job done in a working library.

I fielded a question from a patron who wanted to know why the books in his grandfather's study were all falling apart.

After asking a few basic questions, we figured out that his grandparents had spent tens of thousands of dollars building a private library collection, then stored them in a hot, humid room (cold and damp in the winter) for 40 years.

When Grandpa died, the family found a dead mouse in the stacks. A petrified, half-eaten sandwich was also discovered, as well as silverfish, termites, beetles, and other members of the insect family.

The family collection is now in need of some hardcore conservation. In the grandparents' defense, most people never think about preservation planning in terms of family libraries. Most librarians don't even think about that kind of stuff in terms of their own collections.

Document conservation and preservation is not cheap. Don't expect it to be when a personal collection gets close to that point of no return.

To familiarize yourself with the basics, I'd recommend working through the Northeast Document Conservation Center's Preservation 101 online tutorial. It's an eight-week course designed as an introduction to elements of preservation very few people think about when building collections.

The course is self-paced, free, and requires no registration.

The NEDCC primer won't make anyone an expert, but, hey, it's better than having to tell a kid that Grandpa's books might be nothing more than leatherbound garbage without immediate care and maintenance.

Other resources:

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zydeco fish said...

That's an interesting link. Thanks for that.

SeizeTheNite said...

When my grandfather died, I was sad to see all first editions were molding, being eaten by some kind of bug, and generally falling apart.

Anyway, thanks for the link.
I'm definitely checking that one out.

cooper said...

I admit I think proper storage of books is a priority.

I have some old first edtions and sets that are not with me but could use some real help.

The ZenFo Pro said...

Hey man, no problem. Not enough folks know about the NEDCC. Figure anything I can do to help those nice folks out...

You're welcome, chica. Sorry to hear baout your grandfather - I know how tough it can be to have to toss away history.

Letme know if ya need any professional conservation help. I wouldn't recommend giving stitch mending a shot on your first try...the needles an be very painful ;)

renee said...

I'm about to inherit my grandfather's poetry collection and this post is much appreciated. According to some of these links I'm doing everything wrong and I treat my books like shit. I never realized or even thought about it!