Stab, Fan, Cords! Paperbacks: what to do with them.

"A couple of pages have fallen out, it won't take long to fix" I love it when people say that to me when they bring a book for repair. I give a little chuckle; sometimes I even laugh out loud. And then I show them what I need to do to fix"only two pages". More often than not we are talking about paperbacks; sometimes old brittle ones, often new publications.  There are  books with rusting staples. I will need to totally disbind them (ie rip cover off), clean up the spine, resew and then glue the cover back on. This does not take 5 minutes.

Materials that pass though Preservation

How many tomato sauce recipes can you have? I discover the Sydney County Council's Tomato recipes typed on a single sheet of loose paper, tucked away in the CWA's Coronation Cookery Book.  Did you know  they (the Council?) had 4 recipes for tomato sauce? Amazing! So many recipes. Discoveries like these are what I really enjoy about working in Preservation.

First, do no harm

A portrait of Gordon George McCrae is the latest addition to be welcomed in to the national collection at the Library.  The Preservation Services unit collaborated with their colleagues in the Pictures and Manuscripts team in their assessment of this new acquisition by renowned Australian artist, Tom Roberts.

Sewing? Where's my thimble?

Preservation is quite forward looking when it come to OH&S matters.  There is a debate going on as to whether I require a thimble. I used to be in a belly dance troupe and I was never allowed to cut the material for our costumes; the girls did allow me to get behind the sewing machine as long as what I needed to sew was in a straight line. For someone who doesn't sew, I sew just about every day here. Since this blog is about making a difference, I'll try to explain stab sewing. Many items come in that are stapled.

Making mistakes is not always a bad thing

When I first started here I probably made mistakes every day.  Now I guess I make a mistake every week.  Sounds like a lot. It's a hard thing to admit, making mistakes.  You'd think after a year or so I would have made all the mistakes in the world; but no, there are plenty more to make.  However I feel I have learnt a lot through them. I don't think I've made the same mistake twice, so that's got to be a positive. My aim, I suppose, is to achieve perfection. Is that feasible? Not really.

On a tango holiday there is always time to visit a library.

I have just come back from Argentina where I went on a tango vacation. Thanks to some foward planning and the help of the Argentinian Embassy,  I was able to take time out to visit with the preservation team at the Biblioteca Nacional de Argentina in the posh suburb of Recoleta. The building is an interesting modern design of unrendered concrete; in a city filled with beautiful colonial architecture it is definately an acquired taste.

Bathing at the National Library.....

I need to make a bath. Not for me; for a large sheet of yellowing brittle paper. Cleaning the paper reduces its acidity and will give it a longer life. As a bookbinder i don't do extensive paper treatments, but I do have occasion to wash and line sheets of material, more specifically paper covers. To get back to the item; after its bath I will need to line it. I've never done this before and it is very exciting. Throughout this whole process I am supervised by both Alexa and Janet. They will also  guide myself and Mel, in doing a full paper lining.

Preserve or perish: digital maps

Hundreds of digital maps in our collection are in danger of being lost. These physical format electronic maps are held on media such as floppy disks, CD-ROMs, DVDs and USBs. Some are under threat because they are not intended for long term storage. For instance, the average life of a floppy disk is estimated at less than 10 years. Formats that depend on obsolete hardware or operating systems may also be lost.

Walking around singing a song: what the week brings in.

I've been here a little over a year now, and there are some days when I walk along the corridors thinking : "Wow, I work at the NATIONAL library!"  How did I ever manage to get into such a large institution? I suppose for long time Canberrans and public servants this might sound naive at best, but coming from a small country town and library, it is quite amazing that I ended up here. This is such an enormous building; I can see it all the way from the northern entrance of Canberra.


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