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Conservation Lab

About the Conservation Lab

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About the Conservation Lab 

BC Conservator Slava Polishchuk

Brooklyn College Library’s Conservator/Preservation Officer

At Special Collections, our job is to preserve the past. Whether manuscripts, maps, or rare books, our talented staff is trained to care for damaged items. Slava Polishchuk, our book conservator, has an advanced degree from the Moscow Higher Art Industrial College where he studied fine art preservation and also received master degree in fine art at Brooklyn College. Slava is a valuable member of our staff. He meticulous repairs and re-houses both the rare books in Special Collections as well as items from the general collection that are too fragile to be sent to a commercial binder. This site is an introduction to the vital work that Slava performs for the Brooklyn College community – saving our books for future generations.

The Book and Paper Conservation Laboratory

Brooklyn College is the only CUNY institution to have both a conservator and a conservation laboratory. In 2005, the Brooklyn College Library received a CCAP grant for $300,000 with the help of State Assemblywoman Adele Cohen to expand and build a Book & Paper Conservation Laboratory.

Assemblywoman Adele Cohen and Slava Polishchuk               Brooklyn College Library's Conservation Lab

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Collection Maintenance 

Books Restored by Slava

For hundreds of years the book has remained unchanged in its basic structure. Materials and techniques may have changed, but the one thing that has remained is the method of creating the books and their repairing: the hands. Books have been built by our hands and if necessary, preserved by our hands, saved for future generations. A highly skilled craftsman can easily “fool the eye” when making new additions. But archival consideration must be imposed to assure that the historical values of a document are not lost or diminished. Any book is like a person. It has its own life. And the conservator must to choose the right kind of treatment for it.“Conservation” has replaced “restoration” in current usage. The term “restoration” has a different meaning than term “conservation”. Restoration brings to mind workshops perhaps more concerned with cosmetic improvement than with stabilization. Conservation treatment is intended to stabilize materials in their original format by chemical and physical means. Conservation treatment may be carried out to return deteriorated or damage items to a stable and usable condition. In the context of an archive, conservation treatment is not performed for the purpose of improving an item’s cosmetic appearance. Each book is a part of memory. It doesn’t matter if it’s from the eighteenth or nineteenth century, somebody put knowledge on those pages. The conservator must save it for future generations.

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Treatments 

"Tipping" is the attachment of one leaf to another by means of a narrow strip of ph-neutral adhesive along the edge.  This kind of attachment is not for rare books and is used primarily for items that have been vandalized or mishandled.

Equipment

Cutting Mat Example of Pages Needing Tipping

Board 

Bone folder 

Scalpel 

Brushes for pasting 

Brushes for cleaning

Adhesive container

Materials

Newsprint 

Waste Cardboard 

Japanese Tissue 

Waxed paper 

Ph-neutral adhesive

Acid-free paper 

In most cases dry cleaning should be done first. Pencil marks and other spots are removed using an eraser. Crayon marks are very difficult to remove and the conservator must use a knife to remove the top layer. Using chemicals or liquids is not an option since this will wrinkle the paper and remove the ink.

Enclosures for books are created for a variety of reasons. In the majority of cases, a book that is fragile or embrittled requires extra protection to ensure its preservation. In Special Collections, we have a large collection of rare and unique books many dating back over 300 years. It is our goal to create custom boxes for all of our over 350 linear feet of rare books 

3 Types of enclosures:

1.Wraparounds

Examples of Enclosures

 

Wraparounds are a very basic type of enclosure, made from light grade acid free board. They provide protection and leave the door open for more detailed conservation in the future.

Equipment 

Cutting Mat

Board

Bone Folder

Scalpel

Adhesive Container

Materials

Ph-Neutral adhesive 

Acid-free paper

Acid-free board

 

2. Custom Made Boxes

The drop spine and slip boxes crafted in the Special Collections laboratory are truly works of art. Candidates for this process include books of great value, fragile books, vellum books, miniature books and books with important or ornate bindings,

Equipment

Cutting Mat

Board

Bone Folder

Scalpel

Materials

Double-faced tape

Polyester Film (Mylar)

Acid-free barrier board

Filmoplast

3. Encapsulation

Sometimes paper becomes so brittle that even the slightest usage causes pieces to flake off and disintegrate. Before the information is lost forever, each page is carefully placed between two sheets of Mylar and the Mylar is sealed on the outer edges with double-faced tape. If necessary, the item(s) can be removed by breaking the seal. Once encapsulated, the item can be viewed by patrons. Mylared pages are stored in slip cases.

Equipment

Cutting Mat

Board

Bone Folder

Scalpel

Materials

Double-faced tape

Polyester Film (Mylar)

Acid-free barrier board

Filmoplast

Books in need of repair

Often we receive books from the general collection that have loose or broken covers or sections that have separated from the binding. High usage, combined with low quality paper and shoddy binding, make this type of repair all too common.

Equipment Books in Need of Repair

Cutting Mat

Board

Bone Folder

Scalpel

Adhesive Container

Press

Materials

PA (polyvinyl acetate emulsion)

Newsprint

Waste Cardboard

Waxed Paper

Acidifier paper

Japanese tissue

Muslin Book Cloth

Mending documents with long-fiber Japanese paper and a starch adhesive is a time–tested way of repairing tears and breaks in paper. Japanese paper is strong and starch adhesives are readily reversible in most situations. One of the benefits of mending with Japanese paper is the tendency of the mending strips almost to disappear on the surfaces upon which they are placed.

EquipmentBook During the Mending Process

Cutting Mat

Wooden pressing boards

Bone folder

Scalpel

Large weights

Small weights

Brushes for cleaning

Adhesive Container

Scissors

Materials

Polyester Film (Mylar)

Newsprint

Waste Cardboard

Japanese Tissue

Waxed paper

Ph-neutral adhesive

Acid-free paper

Acid Free Barrier Board

Non-aqueous deacidification solutions use organic solvents rather than water. These solutions permit the treatment of many documents that contain water-soluble inks and other media. Non-aqueous solutions may be applied to paper by spraying, dripping, soaking, or brushing. Before application, all media must be tested with the solution to be used.

Polyester film encapsulation is a simple means of supporting weak paper. Single sheets of paper are enclosed between two pieces of polyester film, which are then sealed around the four edges. Polyester film encapsulation provides physical support but does not improve the chemical stability of the paper. Paper should be deacidified if it is possible, because the paper will continue to deteriorate after encapsulation. Polyester film encapsulation provides physical support and protection for brittle, heavily used, or valuable documents. Because it is stable, easily reversed, and introduces no harmful products, polyester film encapsulation is preferred over lamination as a means of providing long-term protection for archival materials.

Coney Island Poster

Maps, posters, large prints, and other oversized objects usually create preservation problems for any archive. Such materials are unwieldy and therefore vulnerable to damage, especially if they are not mounted or backed. This poster from our Local History Collection is an example of a heavily damaged large item. Not only did the poster come to us in sections, the condition of the paper was extremely fragile and poor.

Coney Island PosterConey Island Poster

Encapsulation in polyester film, a clear, flexible plastic, is the only solution for item like this, especially if an item is brittle and will be frequently handled. Since most untreated papers are acidic to some extent, the poster was deacidified prior to encapsulation. Washing was not possible because of the condition of the paper and its size. The paper was repaired with Japanese hand-made tissue paper and acid-free paper. This poster is sandwiched between two sheets of film slightly larger than the poster. In situations like this, the edges of the Mylar should be sealed either with special welding machine or with double-sided tape.

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