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Friday, June 1 • 3:30pm - 4:00pm
22. (Collection Care) Nothing is Ever Simple: A Case Study in Flexible Project Management for Archives Conservation

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Project parameters can change substantially from initial planning once work begins, particularly with large archival collections. In this case, several changes required a re-evaluation of the methods, processes and techniques used. The size of the collection tripled, staff discovered significant mold damage, and environmental conditions truncated treatment time. This poster will describe how I was able to adjust treatment processes and techniques to accommodate rapidly changing project needs. The legal records of the Leo Hershkowitz Collection (TAM 415) were initially thought to be the simplest of three collections to be treated as part of the Gardiner Project. This evaluation was based on staff experience with tri-folded legal documents and what eventually proved to be an extremely biased sample used in initial project planning. Once I began treatment, I discovered that the 150 boxes of the collection were larger than originally thought, tripling the size of the collection, that the paper was more brittle, and that many more inks were present than the sample indicated. Archives staff discovered extensive mold contamination when they began to inventory the collection, prompting me and other conservation staff to conduct an emergency survey of the material, revealing that 10% of the collection had extensive mold contamination. The initial workflow had to be entirely re-written. In order to manage the increased volume of work I triaged treatment steps, eventually using minimal surface cleaning and passive flattening. I ruled out humidification due to the variety of inks present, so flattening was performed only with the lab’s ambient seasonal humidity, meaning flattening was unexpectedly confined to the wetter spring and summer months as the lab’s HVAC system is unable to provide humidification in New York City’s dry winter months. As this was only one of three collections I was responsible for, there were not enough staff hours to cope with the mold, so I collaborated with an outside vendor who was able to perform mold remediation as well as some of the cleaning and flattening to NYU Libraries’ specifications. By maintaining a flexible approach to project management, and adjusting treatment plans throughout the process, the project is on track to meet goals despite serious initial setbacks.

Speakers
avatar for Alexander Bero

Alexander Bero

Conservator, NYU Libraries
Alex Bero is a Special Collections Conservator at New York University. He holds a Masters of Science in Information Studies with a Certification of Advanced Study in Book and Paper Conservation from the University of Texas at Austin. He has experience at the American Museum of Natural... Read More →


Friday June 1, 2018 3:30pm - 4:00pm
Texas Ballroom (Foyer outside Ballrooms - Poster Session) Marriott Marquis Houston

Attendees (39)