Collections Care treatment areaThe Collections Care program assesses, treats, and provides protective enclosures for items held in the Library’s collections. Collections Care activities also include: disaster response and recovery, advising and maintaining relationships with commercial binding vendors, and administering the mass deacidification program.
Collection Care’s ability to stabilize and treat collections in-house makes it possible to return items for use in a timely manner while retaining significant artifactual and informational components. Collections Care staff perform treatments such as paper mending, humidification and flattening, creating or mending covers, reproducing severely damaged or missing pages, tip-ins, and text-block consolidation.
Kasemake box-making machine
Collections Care collaborates with staff in divisions throughout NYPL to assess housing needs of items. The most typical housings consist of custom-made boxes, encapsulation, and protective dust jackets.
Boxes are typically made for brittle collection items that cannot be treated, for severely damaged items where a surrogate is available, or where treatment is prohibitively expensive or too labor intensive. Boxes may also be made for items because: they have structural elements that are especially susceptible to damage (e.g. spiral bindings); have accompanying materials (e.g. maps or plates); or need for physical support (e.g. rolled posters).
To determine the correct dimensions for protective enclosures, a measuring box with an L-shaped gauge is used to measure the length, width and thickness of each item. Measurements for the enclosures and bibliographic information to be printed on the exterior of the boxes are submitted via a web-based form. Using a Kasemake™ automated box making system, Collections Care staff create four-flap, clamshell, or two-piece custom protective enclosures.
Books drying in presses after treatment
Custom-made ultrasonic welders allow for “encapsulation” of flat collection items. Two chemically stable sheets of polyester are placed on either side of a fragile collection item and the item is sealed inside to allow for both use and long-term protection. The Library typically encapsulates fragile or high use items such as documents, maps, and posters.
The CoLibri™ system is used to create chemically stable polyethylene covers that protect book dust jackets. Book dust jackets to be saved include ones with historically significant covers with minor damage or leather book covers exhibiting deterioration and desiccation known as “red rot”.
Encapsulating a map using an ultrasonic welder
The Collections Care program manages the Library’s mass deacidification efforts and commercial collection binding needs. The mass deacidification is performed through the use of an outside vendor. The process is achieved by suspending books in a tank and then agitating the books in a non-aqueous chemical solution that raises the pH level of the paper. This process hinders further deterioration of the paper by neutralizing harmful acids contained within the paper. The commercial library binding and shelf preparation program is a shared responsibility; Collections Care’s role is to set binding specifications and quality control standards, and to manage vendor relationships.
Collections Care collaborates with Field Services staff to ensure appropriate disaster recovery supplies and equipment are available when emergencies affecting collections materials occur. On the rare occasion that it is necessary, they also participate in clean-up efforts and treat affected collections.