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Subject: Stack cleaning project

Stack cleaning project

From: George R. Leake III <taliesin>
Date: Friday, February 26, 1999
Maria Fredericks <mf360 [at] columbia__edu> writes

>Here at Columbia University Libraries, we are in the process of
>planning a cleaning project in an area of our rare book stacks that
>was affected by an outpouring of soot from the air-handling system
>during building renovation. The collections in need of cleaning
>consist of the usual diverse assortment of bound materials, mostly
>18th-20th centuries.  Some of the leather bindings are in a very
>delicate and friable state already, and cleaning them without
>causing further damage will be difficult.  Because of the volume of
>work that needs to be done, we are considering hiring an outside
>firm to do the work, with the idea that the workers will be trained
>and supervised by a conservator.  Has anyone out there had
>experience with such a project?

I have been involved with several similar operations at the Ransom
Center over the last 14 years or so, one quite similar. We dealt
with the situation using regular staff (most with at least a modicum
of preservation/conservation training already). The one time we
experienced a significant problem with soot (during our HVAC system
conversion), fortunately our Administration anticipated a problem
with debris falling on rare books--covering large areas of stacks
with translucent plastic sheets.

Removal of debris would be rendered by use of a soft brush. However,
some soot can contain oily residue which would cause smearing on
materials even with the softest of brushing.

One further word: regardless of renovation projections, I would
recommend regular surveys of stack areas (annually at least) to
monitor buildup of mold, dust, insects, soot and or other materials
that tend to collect on archival materials in stack areas,
particularly on books near air vents.

George Leake
Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center
UT Austin

                  Conservation DistList Instance 12:71
                 Distributed: Wednesday, March 3, 1999
                       Message Id: cdl-12-71-004
Received on Friday, 26 February, 1999

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