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Friday, June 1 • 2:30pm - 3:00pm
(Problematic Materials) Managing Expectations in Scrapbook Conservation Approaches

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Historic scrapbooks are one of the most problematic formats found in many library, archive, and museum collections due to their complicated and deterioration-prone structures. Unfortunately, they are also one of the formats of greatest interest to historians and genealogists, among others. These often bedraggled books offer a wonderful and unique glimpse into history through the eyes of the individual or group who created them. Although some scrapbooks contain only duplicate printed information, such as newspaper clippings of current events on particular topics or collectable printed cards or illustrations, others contain a wide variety of materials such as photographs, postcards, letters, documents, and realia. In either case, however, scrapbooks can serve as a valuable resource for researchers. Unfortunately, due to the nature of their construction, their previous use, and the deterioration of their contents, many historic scrapbooks are in very poor condition and present a myriad of preservation challenges. These challenges range from binding deterioration and dangerously brittle paper to the often dramatic deterioration of their contents.

At the University of Illinois Library we hold a large number of such historic scrapbooks (nearly 1,000) broadly held in the collections of our University Archives, Student Life and Culture Archives, or Sousa Archives and Center for American Music. Condition, curatorial value, and use of these materials vary greatly, as do expectations from our archivists and curators on what “conservation treatment” may mean when items are brought to the conservation lab. Over the last ten years, treatments have ranged from over 100 hours per item for various full treatment approaches (including maintaining and preserving the original format, or completely removing items from their scrapbook format) to simple boxing, and everything in between. This variability in approaches has been particularly heightened recently by the planning for an upcoming exhibition and digitization project focusing on a single historical scrapbook from our Rare Book and Manuscript Library as well as several incoming requests to remove items from scrapbooks to be permanently housed separately from their original scrapbook. In an attempt to better manage curatorial expectations on what scrapbook treatment may involve and better articulate the benefits and drawbacks of more invasive conservation and/or disbinding, our conservation staff have been developing a more strategized and, perhaps, standardized approach to the conservation treatment of historic scrapbooks. This presentation will give an overview of some of our previous scrapbook treatment approaches, analyze the successes and failures of those treatments, and how we propose to better streamline our treatments as well as to better communicate with curators to arrive at agreed upon treatment approaches that meet their collections and users needs.

avatar for Jennifer Hain Teper-[Fellow]

Jennifer Hain Teper-[Fellow]

Head of Preservation, University of Illinois Library
Jennifer Hain Teper serves as the Velde Preservation Librarian at the University of Illinois Libraries overseeing conservation, collections care, digital preservation, and digitization services throughout the library system. Before her current position began in 2009, she served as... Read More →

Friday June 1, 2018 2:30pm - 3:00pm MDT
Texas Ballroom C Marriott Marquis Houston