Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Quarter 3 has just begun and it's looking pretty good so far!

My first class is about preservation and conservation of library materials. We just had an overview class yesterday, but it's already fascinating. We watched this old video about 'slow fires' - books and library materials disintegrating through time. So it seems paper used to be made of linen and other stronger materials. Then when they started printing more books they were running out of linen and needed a lot more cheap materials to make paper. So they turned to wood fiber, and they also were adding acid to the mix - haven't figured that part out yet (I think that comes tomorrow). So you've got all this acidic paper that after a century or two is 'burning up' and falling to pieces.

A man on the video demonstrated the problem. He took a book from the shelves and opened it to the middle. The pages were breaking out. He took out a page and crumbled it in his hand. It literally turned to dust. Wow.

Another problem is that libraries aren't aware of potential problems and don't prepare and do dumb things - like storing things in the basement! The video mentioned the flood in Florence and Venice in 1966 which caused a lot of damage and washed away a lot of priceless things - like art by Botticelli and millions of old and rare books. Hello! Storing things in the basement is a bad idea!

Anyway, this is why we have acid-free paper now - so it won't crumble to dust in hundred years or so.

My class on information systems, architectures and retrieval has also just gotten started. There hasn't been a whole lot yet, but the professor is originally from Greece so he has a fun accent and he is also a really funny professor!


@bdul muHib said...

I know what you mean about the basement storage. I live on the ground floor here, and there's so much humidity in the air, I'm constantly having to clean mold off my books :-( And I taught in actual basements the last 2 years previous, and there was always the Creeping Mold along the walls to deal with, to say nothing of it affecting the scientific instruments.

Aimee said...

Oh man! Sorry to hear that Jedidiah. Moisture and books do not get along well. I hope you haven't lost any books to mold!

cosand said...

Ahh... many a sacred map has been lost to treasure seekers by crumbling pages. ;) It happened to the chests full of scrolls in MacGyver: Search for Atlantis!

That, and we comic book people obsess way to much about preserving our books. Polypropylene is a common word.

Where do you think Mylar got her name from? Balloons? I think not!

@bdul muHib said...

Not yet. We'll see. I have to figure out what to do with the 400 books when I leave- do I store some here, hoping mold doesn't grow, or ship them all back to the States, or wherever my next location is?