Cultural heritage conservators are always borrowing and jerry-rigging tools from other trades and industries. We also benefit from exposure to the tools and methodologies of our conservator colleagues in other specialties. My latest favorite new acquisition for the Library Lab is this humble, disposable seam ripper (stitch cutter) blade. The blades seem designed to snap onto some sort of handle (much like disposable scalpel blades), although the place I bought them from didn't sell handles. To make the blades safer and more comfortable to hold without needing a special handle, I wrapped some blue painter's tape around the end for better grippiness and modest cushioning.
My undergraduate intern, Yan Choi, has been working on a number of circulating collection books which need resewing. In order for Yan to pull (disbind) the books quickly, without damaging the fragile inner folds of each textblock gathering, I picked up these disposable seam ripper blades for her to try. The back of the curved blade is flat and blunt, while the cutting edge is inside the curve only. She can swiftly and easily slip the blade under even the tautest stitch of thread, and deftly cut through it with a small flick of the wrist, eliminating the risk of puncturing the paper that comes with using a straight-bladed scalpel or scissors.
We'll definitely be keeping a box of these blades on hand in the future, and may even loan some to our textile conservator colleagues down the hall.
I heartily agree with the posting below that the history of libraries holds merit as a distinct field of scholarship, albeit one intimately tied to other fields. I expect to read some fascinating and fruitful scholarship in these pages -- please spread the word to potential contributors and readers alike!
Libraries: Culture, History, and Society
We are delighted to announce that Libraries: Culture, History, and Society is now accepting submissions for our premiere issue to be published in Spring 2017. A semiannual peer-reviewed publication from the Library History Round Table of the American Library Association and the Penn State University Press, LCHS will be available in print and online via JSTOR and Project Muse.
The only journal in the United States devoted to library history, LCHS positions library history as its own field of scholarship, while promoting innovative cross-disciplinary research on libraries’ relationships with their unique environments. LCHS brings together scholars from many disciplines to examine the history of libraries as institutions, collections, and services, as well as the experiences of library workers and users. There are no limits of time and space, and libraries of every type are included (private, public, corporate, and academic libraries, special collections and manuscripts). In addition to Library Science, the journal welcomes contributors from History, English, Literary Studies, Sociology, Education, Gender/Women’s Studies, Race/Ethnic Studies, Philosophy, Political Science, Architecture, Anthropology, Geography, Economics, and other disciplines.
Submissions for volume 1, issue 1, are due August 29, 2016. Eric Novotny and Bernadette A. Lear of Penn State University Libraries are co-editors.
Manuscripts may be submitted electronically through LCHS’s Editorial Manager system at http://www.editorialmanager.com/LCHS/default.aspx. They must also conform to the instructions for authors at http://bit.ly/LCHScfp1.
We are excited to see this journal become a reality and welcome your thoughts (and submissions!) as we create a new platform for studying libraries within their broader humanistic and social contexts.
For further questions, please contact the editors:
Bernadette Lear, BAL19@psu.edu
Eric Novotny, ECN1@psu.edu
[Originally posted on the SHARP distlist.]
I’m a bit old-fashioned when it comes to taking treatment notes at the bench. I like to take notes by hand, in pencil, on paper. I do so for a number of reasons.
First, when I am in “benchwork” mode, I am all about tactile information. As I tap into a part of my brain that is gathering as much information from my fingertips as from my eyes, I find the tactility of holding a pencil and writing on paper keeps me in that mental mode better than repeatedly switching to typing and looking at a computer screen. My notes also tend to consist of fragmented phrases punctuated with lots of quick sketches, rather than well-constructed, complete sentences. Again, this probably has to do with the mental mode I’m in during treatment. I don’t want to be held up by lexical and syntactic choices when I’m in the midst of benchwork. Notes and sketches provide a serviceable first draft, and then I can massage the language for clarity when I am typing my report into our treatment documentation database (KE Emu) later.
Second, my computer resides in my office, which is across the hall from the Library Lab proper, where I do my benchwork. My lab does have a laptop I could use to log in to our treatment documentation software, but the laptop is large, heavy, and clunky, taking up valuable real estate on my workbench. I’m also not the tidiest of conservators when my work is in process, and I don’t want to have to worry about splattering the laptop with adhesives or consolidants, or getting dry-cleaning eraser crumbs or other detritus lodged in the keyboard.
I used to take notes on a printout of the treatment proposal, which I liked because it meant all the identifying information for an object in treatment was printed right there on the same page. However, more times than not, I would run out of blank space and move onto a legal pad for additional notes. I found I liked writing on the legal pad better, because it was easier to keep track of than shuffling back and forth among a sheaf of printed proposals when I was working on multiple treatments at once. However, the legal pad ended up getting pretty beat up over time, with crumpled corners, creases, and notes for different treatments all jumbled together, so I tended to discard these handwritten pages after typing up the reports.
Now, however, I have settled on the solution that seems to work best for me, both practically speaking and in terms of my archival sensibilities. I take all of my treatment notes in a hardcover lab notebook, of the sort used in research laboratories. I like that the notebook is tidily bound and covered in a smooth, coated paper that wipes up easily should someone accidentally splatter something on it. I like the index section at the front of the book, where I can easily note my treatment IDs and corresponding page numbers. I like the graph paper, which facilitates sketching as well as written notes. I like that the pages are already numbered. And finally, I like that the notebook is a neat and convenient way to save my notes, should anything untoward ever happen to the digital report in our database, or should I want to return to the source to clarify something in the final report. What can I say? I’m a library and archives conservator to the core: I still believe paper is a more stable technology than digital in the long term, as much as I love the ease and vast storage capacity of digital formats. For me, my work life benefits from continuing to embrace both.
While this is the method that works for me, there are many paths to note-taking nirvana -- what's yours?