A Protective Enclosure
"Why do you want to work in a library?" I've been asked that question
at every library where I've worked. "I forget," I reply. "That is, I forget
too easily." Libraries and archives are extensions of my memory. I rely
upon them to store and recall things my mind is too hyperactive to remem-
ber. At home, my personal archives/library and I are one tilJ a
part. Judging by the number of questions I've been asked abo my own ,
books, papers and photographs, I dare say even you and your I1rary are
one too. The problem is preservation. Like me, you could literally lose your
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mind if you don't preserve your books and papers. Oh sure, maybe some li-
brary of the future will collect our personal papers! How do our papers, books
- our memories survive until then? None of us can afford the very best. If
my body sweats, so does my mind, that is, my books. We all need protective
enclosures. We have homes. Library books have libraries and personal pa-
pers have archives whether the library or archives is in your home or a
university library. Some things, however, need extra protection. These
things could be the brittle family Bible or your grandfather's Civil War let-
ters; your birth-certificate or your child's first drawings. Let's look at a sim-
PROBLEM: 25 child's drawings on 8" x 11" notebook paper in crayon, finger
paint, and water-color, some Scotch@ tape.
CONCERNS: 1. Notebook paper is often acidic and embrittles over time.
Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings used notebook paper which is now brittle.
2. Crayon is oil based. Not only does it go through paper over time, but
through many sheets both above and below. Charles Olson, the poet, wrote
3. Finger paint is chalk in water and remains chalky when dry. Pictures can
be easily smeared. Costume drawings in the Belknap Collection are done in
charcoal (i.e., black chalk) pencil.
4. Water-color is never permanent. Get a water-colored map wet and you can
5. Adhesive tape yellows and oozes, and ooze causes pages to stick together.
Its adhesive, like crayon, is oil based. The University Archives is full of
taped newspaper clippings.
6. Color materials fade with exposure to light. Columbia University's "blue
books" on southeast Asian culture are now white.
RECIPE FOR A SIMPLE SOLUTION: Start with one sturdy box just slight-
ly larger than your materials. This will prevent materials from sliding
around and damaging themselves. Make sure the box has a tight fitting lid.
Using the box-bottom, cut it so one of the walls lays flat, flush with the bot-
tom. This will allow you to slide the materials out later, so you won't have
to dig and possibly ruin the materials. The box will probably be acidic and
this acid may harm your materials, so we're going to put 100% rag paper
(available from a stationery store) in the bottom. Just lay it in. 100% rag pa-
per is made from cotton and is (usually) not acidic. Now lay in your first
drawing, then two sheets of rag paper. Then the next drawing and two more
sheets of rag paper. (You'll need about 60 sheets of rag paper in all.) Do this
until all of the drawings are in the box. The rag paper will collect any ooze
from crayon or tape, prevent paint from smearing, counteract effects of acid in
notebook paper to slow embrittlement, and absorb moisture that may make
water-colors run. The box will protect materials from some of the effects of
heat and moisture. In addition the box will keep the materials out of light so
they won't fade. (NOTE: Different colors fade differently. Blue fades quick-
ly in light but little in dark. Red can fade even in the darkest of darkness.)
This problem demonstrates some basic conservation problems faced by both
yourself and the Libraries and simple solutions to most. Conservation is
"common sense" with simple rules:
1. Ask questions about everything you don't know how to do.
2. Use only the best materials you can get. (Do not assume that more expen-
sive means "better". "Acid-free" papers are often cheaper than acidic pa-
pers.) and ...
3. All methods should be reversible. Glue nothing down that can not be un-
glued. Tape nothing that cannot be untaped.
-- Erich Kesse
~UIFMItGi TION: PHRSE
The second phase of fumigating
Library East was completed over
New Year's weekend. Stewart
Pest Control arrived back on
campus on December 28 to begin
preparation work repositioning
roof tarps and checking window
seals. Library staff opened boxes,
files, and cabinets to facilitate
penetration and dispersion of the
Vikane. The process of sealing,
securing, and fumigating the
building went very smoothly, and
the building was clear and ready
for reoccupation on January 4. We
are confident that the fumigation
was successful and that the
existing termite and beetle
infestations were eradicated.
But, this was a costly process
that we can't repeat frequently, so
preventive measures are
necessary. Returned materials
and new acquisitions should be
inspected for infestation.
Anything suspicious should be
reported to Preservation Officer
Erich Kesse. At the same time, we
are continuing to work toward
acquiring a blast freezer which
will allow us to deal with future
problems. Because of
Gainesville's climate and the
similarly problematic ones of
many areas from which we
acquire library materials, the
acquisition of a freezer is central
to our preservation program.
SThe efforts of all staff who
contributed to the success of the
Thanksgiving and New Year's
fumigations are very much
-- Carol Turner