A Discovery in the Attic, Part Two

Part Two, The Preservation:

Part 1;  I upped this post a bit to add another later this month to celebrate Archive Month and Information Literacy Month, both of which are October.

Once the spring semester started, I immediately began working with the books.  I went through each book to catalog them into an Excel file.  I took note of everything that would be included in a MARC record.  I also noted any damage found and if the book contained special markings.  These markings include the Limbaugh Library Seal, Judge Limbaugh writing his name in the cover, underlining, and cover and margin notes.  Another prominent marking was found in the oldest books, as Limbaugh wrote his name and assigned his collection volume numbers.  A few books were listed as belonging to Blauel and Hattie May Seabaugh, family of Rush H. Limbaugh, Sr.’s wife.

Amy C. Nickless Cataloging the Collection

This is me cataloging the collection.

After the cataloging, the preservation began.  This was a multi-step process conducted with the help of Student Honors Council Historian.  She was a double major in history and historic preservation.  Beforehand, we learned preservation techniques from the special collections librarian and another historic preservation student.  They showed us how to make four-flap (or tuxedo) book enclosures for damaged books using acid-free archival cardstock and acid-free book tags for all marked books.  The cases are to protect books from further damage and keep loose pieces together (for further details about the need for enclosures see this blog post by Parks Library Preservation).  After all, a decade in an attic with no climate control can take its toll.  The book tags are like bookmarks, but note what is special with the book and its location within.

Over the course of two Saturday afternoons, the Honors FirstStep (freshman orientation) Open Houses, the Student Honors Council Historian and I worked with the books.  The first Saturday, in late February, we constructed archival cases for approximately fourteen damaged books.  The next Saturday, in March, we cut and labeled roughly one hundred book tags.  Over the course of the next week, I took the tags and placed them in the correct books.

Amy C. Nickless Building an Archival Case

This is me building an tuxedo enclosure for one of the collection’s books that was missing a spine.

The last step in the preservation process was to compile the assorted documents found in the books.  This I did solo.  For this, I took each document and compiled them into pages of an 8 X 11 inch acid-free scrapbook.  Each item was inserted either by sliding it into place or using photo corners to place multiple items per page.  Each item was documented to include what it was and where it was found.  This allowed easy display of the items while protecting them from harm.  Granted, it was not the traditional archival way, but we needed a way to both protect and display.

Added comments:  Preserving the books was the most thrilling part of this project for me!  I truly enjoyed learning to, then building, the archival cases.  That fit both the librarian/archivist and the crafter in me.  Then when making the book tags, it forced me to look at the historical significance of these copies.  The historian in me was delighted!  Lastly, when I worked with the documents I had a preview of what I might be doing as an archivist and my scrapbooking skills came in handy when working on a safe way to display the material.

Note:  Titles used instead of names to preserve privacy.

To be continued…

In the meantime, do you think you would have done the same work if you were still an untrained librarian/archivist?

Part 3


2 thoughts on “A Discovery in the Attic, Part Two

  1. Pingback: A Discovery in the Attic, Part One « Amy's Scrap Bag: A Blog About Libraries, Archives, and History

  2. Pingback: A Discovery in the Attic, Part Three « Amy's Scrap Bag: A Blog About Libraries, Archives, and History

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