Last week I attended a workshop on preservation of scrapbooks that was held at Bird Library, Syracuse University. The presenter was Deb Wender of the Northeast Document Conservation Center. What a great speaker! She was fun to listen to and I learned a lot. There were about 25 people in the class and each brought a scrapbook in need of preservation. The last hour, or so, Deb looked at each scrapbook and made recommendations on how to proceed. With the wide variety of problems presented we all walked away with a good idea of how to evaluate the needs of our collections.

As always I have a list of things that I think will be most helpful to me.

  • Number all the pages, if there is loose material number it with the page number and them an item number. 2.1, 2.2, etc. Don’t use letters, you will always run out. Be consistent in your numbering and where you number.
  • If you take apart a scrapbook and folder each page, store the scrapbook cover on top of the folders, so the pages are not deformed.
  • Leather covers will develop red rot (We have this on a number of books in our closed collection). Make a polyester dust jacket. We will start doing this with leather covered books that we make phase boxes for, what a mess they make!
  • Interleaf between the pages of a scrapbook with light weight, buffered paper to keep pages from sticking, or acids from discoloring. Don’t put the paper all the way into the binding.
  • Instruct patrons (and workers) on how to support the pages as they turn them. Perhaps provide a metal spatula to help them keep their hands oils off any photos.
  • The most important thing seems to be to provide a well fitted housing and store flat, fully supported. Don’t stack more than two high.
  • Never use glue stick, glassine, or filmoplast.

So here I am, just back from vacation with information from three workshops that I need to integrate into my thinking and procedures. Reunion is Friday, so I guess that has to be the next focus.


After just getting all charged up on AT yesterday, I went to an RRLC workshop today on Environmental Concerns & the Care of Graphic Materials.  So I’m all charged up about that.  Now I’m taking two weeks vacation, but the first thing I do when I get back is go to a workshop on Scrapbook preservation.  I get excited about all these things, it makes setting priorities difficulty.  At least I’m never bored.

The workshop today was done by Michele Hamill and Tatyana Petukhove, both of Cornell.  Michele covered photographic materials, Tatyana artistic works on paper.  I have absolutely no art background so I picked up a lot from Tatyana, but a lot went over my head.  She did leave me feeling like I wish I were younger, I would love to get a degree in paper conservation.

Michele’s presentation was right on point for me.  I had been to other such workshops, but it was when I was just starting.  Now that I’m more grounded in what I am doing, I feel I added a great deal to my knowledge.

Here are the tidbits I noted, so I won’t forget while I’m on vacation:

  • Our stereographs are spread out throughout the photo collection.  I think we should bring them together as a collection, so they can be housed in the correct size plastic slides and acid free container.
  • We should think about digitizing our slides, when we finish the photo collection, because the equipment for viewing them is disappearing.
  • Photo paper we buy for printing our digitized images should always be the same brand as the printer.
  • Sara and I should work together on a proposal for creating an environmentally controlled space to house both the archives and the fine art collection.

Shopping list

  • We should buy those cool little lighted magnifiers for looking at artifacts, and a couple of those little spatulas for turning pages.
  • Determine what we need to buy for proper housing of both the art collection and oversized archives items.
  • A bigger paper cutter to handle to big tagboard sheets we use for phase box making.
  • Keep pushing for more shelf space.

Stray thoughts:  A good student worker job for next year would be to replace the labels on the document boxes.  Some are falling off, others have been scratched out and corrected with pencil as we went along.  I’m thinking it might be a good idea to put numbers on the boxes with a sharpie, to facilitate reshelving (in the right place.)

That’s it for a couple of weeks, I’m off birdwatching!

AT vs Archon

May 10, 2007

We had a College Archivists Roundtable (CAR) meeting yesterday. Becky Simmons of RIT had been comparing and evaluating Archivists Toolkit and Archon, another open source system made available by the U of Illinois. She demonstrated them both. The Archon interface is much more user friendly, and your finding aid is web ready when you are finished. It doesn’t have the management features that I am so happy with on AT. I’m still very happy with the accessions and name modules that helps me keep track of “the piles”.

The AT demo made me aware that I need to go back and read the manual to figure out the parts of it that I haven’t taked advantage of yet. My way is to jump in and get as far as I need to to accomplish the immediate goal, and forget to go back for the in depth view. I see spending a happy summer becoming closer to AT.

Becky made the comment that it seems possible to use AT for the “work” and then load the finished EAD into Archon to make the webpage. That seems like a good idea.

It’s always so great to get together with my Archives Buddies. I learn so much from them. But I already miss my student workers. I have four graduating.

Putting the list on the history of campus buildings on the website, and posting a message to the faculty and staff listservs was by far the best PR I have every done. I was even complimented by a member of the library staff, who, I’ll bet, never had reason to look at the Archives webpage before. I think everyone on campus went in to at least look at the building they are in.

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