Category Archives: Preservation and Conservation

Initial Steps Before Recovery of Wet Records

[This blog post was written by Jennifer Blomberg, head of the Collection Management Branch.]

When records have been damaged by water, it is very important to begin the recovery process as soon as possible. However, do not go in and start pulling records. Below are some initial steps that need to be taken prior to initialize the recovery of wet records.

 

Human Safety Is Always the Highest Priority

Do not enter the affected area or building until it has been determined that it is safe to do so. In a water emergency, potential dangers to people include electrical shock and exposure to sewage, chemicals and mold.

 

Security

If confidential records have been damaged, recovery will need to take place under proper security conditions.

  • If the water source is not determined, assume the water is contaminated and protective clothing must be worn. If sewage or other dangerous substances contaminate the water, enlist professional assistance.
  • Do not enter an area with standing water until the electricity has been turned off.

Once safe access is available, assessing and stabilizing the area immediately is necessary. The greatest damage to records happen during the first 8 hours.  Within 48 hours, paper will begin to breakdown and to show initial stages of mold. Photographic and magnetic/electronic media will breakdown sooner.

 

If recovery is beyond your capability to handle due to severity, size, staffing, and/ or resources, contact vendors and specialists immediately.

Quantities too large to stabilize within the first 48 hours should be frozen either for defrosting and air drying at a later date, or for referral to a commercial drying vendor or preservation professional.

 

Inventory and Document

Documentation of every step of the recovery process needs to be done. Be sure to keep a complete inventory of all records that are moved. All records should be eventually removed from the damaged area, even if the records are not wet. They have been in an area that once did, or may still have high humidity level which can promote mold growth.

The inventory needs to include: type of record, record description, record format, original location, extent of damage, new recovery location, and any other tracking/ recovery identification.

Initial Response Flow Chart - click on the image to see a larger version.

Initial response flow chart – click on the image to see a larger version.

For more information on disaster mitigation, preparation and recovery, please feel free to contact Jennifer Blomberg, Head of Collections Management Branch at the State Archives of North Carolina at (919) 807-7308 or at jennifer.blomberg@ncdcr.gov.

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Webinar: Digital Preservation for Individuals and Small Groups

[This blog announcement was written by Jennifer Blomberg, head of the Collection Management Branch.]

Digital Preservation for Individuals and Small Groups Webinar Viewing is TODAY!

Please join the Government and Heritage Library and State Archives today for the online viewing of Digital Preservation for Individuals and Small Groups led by the Library of Congress’s Mike Ashenfelder. This webinar will be a great introduction for individuals and representatives from small organizations who have interest in preserving their own digital photos, documents, recordings, videos, and other digital files.

The webinar will cover:

  • the nature of the digital-preservation challenge
  • simple, practical tips to describe and save digital files
  • tools that can be used

Location, Date & Time

 Archives & History–Library building

109 E. Jones St., Raleigh NC

TODAY

April 30, 2015

 Room 208  2-3 pm

 

Webinar Description

As technology changes, the greatest threat to preserving digital files is obsolescence. Files may get stuck on obsolete media or in some form that may become unusable in time. If you don’t actively care for your digital possessions you may lose access to them.

This webinar can help increase your understanding of what it takes to preserve commonly used digital files such photos, recordings, videos and documents. Learn about the nature of the digital-preservation challenge and hear about some simple, practical tips and tools to help you preserve your digital stuff.

Presenter

Mike Ashenfelder, Digital Preservation Project Coordinator, has worked at the Library of Congress since 2003 in the National Digital Information Infrastructure and Preservation Program. He writes about personal digital archiving, leaders in digital preservation and issues and new developments in digital preservation. He also produces public information videos and podcasts. Before joining the Library of Congress, he worked for a decade in the Bay Area as a technical writer.

 

Preservation Week Quiz: Wednesday’s Question of the Day

As part of Preservation Week 2015, the State Archives is partnering with the State Library of North Carolina on a Preservation Week Question of the Day – a series of questions related to the preservation of materials both physical and electronic. See the State Library’s blog to see their question of the day posts.

True or False: Paper quality is affected by the materials it is produced from.

  1. True
  2. False

Do you know the answer?  Find out below the cut.

 

Continue reading

Historic Paper Repair

[This blog post was written by Emily Rainwater, Conservator for the State Archives of North Carolina.]

How would you fix a torn piece of paper without tape? One way might be to take another, smaller piece of paper and glue it on top of the tear. This actually forms the basis of modern conservation repair work, though Conservators take great care when choosing both the paper and adhesive. The repair paper is usually an extremely thin tissue with long fibers and excellent aging properties, while the adhesive will be non-staining and easily reversible even with age.

 

Historic paper repair on MC.150.1775m, c. 2

Historic paper repair on MC.150.1775m, c. 2

 

Another way would be to sew the tear back together. This is seen more commonly with parchment as it tends to be sturdier and less likely to tear further from the stitches. However, if the paper is good quality and in good condition, it can be sewn as well, as seen in this example from the Northampton County Apprentice Bonds.

 

Northampton County Apprentice Bonds and Records, 1797-1888, 071.101.2

Northampton County Apprentice Bonds and Records, 1797-1888, 071.101.2 (Front)

Northampton County Apprentice Bonds and Records, 1797-1888, 071.101.2

Northampton County Apprentice Bonds and Records, 1797-1888, 071.101.2 (Back)

If a historic repair is still working and functioning properly, I will frequently leave it intact. However, if it is damaging the paper, either because it has caused a new breaking point or was done using harmful materials, I may remove it and replace it with a more conservationally sound repair. In the case of this Apprentice Bond, both the paper and repair were in good condition, so the sewing was left intact.

Conservation Treatment of a Company Payroll

[This blog post was written by Emily Rainwater, Conservator for the State Archives of North Carolina.]

Company payroll, before treatment

Company payroll, before treatment

During Preservation Week, the State Archives will be displaying a recently conserved 1864 payroll for Company G of the 38th North Carolina Infantry, Confederate States Army. When it was donated, the company payroll was in poor condition. Though the family had done what they could to preserve it, the document suffered from previous water damage and had numerous tears and areas where the paper was lost completely. Some of the text areas were folded over, which obscured the information. There were also several old pieces of tape which had been used at some point to hold the document together. As regular readers of The Charter know, tape can cause a lot of damage, and can be extremely time consuming for a Conservator to remove.

After conservation treatment

After conservation treatment

The treatment started out with thorough written and photographic documentation of the condition of the payroll. Solubility testing was carried out to see if the various printing and manuscript inks could be safely washed, as well as to test what solvent combination would work best on the tape. The document was cleaned with a soft brush, and then each piece of tape and its sticky residue was carefully removed. The document was then washed in a bath to remove some of the products of deterioration which had built up in the paper as well as re-establish the chemical bonds. Next, the document was placed in an alkaline bath, which raises the pH of the paper slightly and gives it a buffer against future acidic degradation. The document was dried flat, and then carefully mended back together using wheat starch paste and a thin Japanese tissue which had been toned to match the color of the paper. Larger areas of loss were filled in with a heavier weight tissue. Finally, the payroll was encapsulated to add protection from handling.

The exhibit will be up through the end of the week and will display the newly conserved payroll and show examples of preservation techniques used to protect paper based materials. The exhibit will take place in the Search Room of the State Archives of North Carolina located at 109 E. Jones Street, 2nd floor. The State Archives is open 8am – 5:30am, Tuesday –Friday and 9am-2pm on Saturday.

Preservation Week Quiz: Monday’s Question of the Day

As part of Preservation Week 2015, the State Archives is partnering with the State Library of North Carolina on a Preservation Week Question of the Day – a series of questions related to the preservation of materials both physical and electronic. Visit the State Library’s blog to see their question of the day posts.

When CDs first went on the market, sellers often claimed that the disks could last up to 200 years. Today, experts estimate that a CD will last how long if left on the shelf?

  1. 50-75 years
  2. 30-50 years
  3. 10-30 years
  4. 5-10 years

Do you know the answer?  Find out below.

Continue reading

Quick Preservation Tips

[This blog post was written by Jennifer Blomberg, head of the Collection Management Branch.]

The primary goal of preservation is to prolong the existence of materials and prevent or slow down deterioration. Below are some simple tips that everyone can do that will have significant long term impact on collections.

Basic preservation activities include:

Environmental ControlPhotograph of a data logger

  • Avoid extremes in temperature and relative humidity
  • Provide a moderate and stable temperature and humidity level

Disaster Planning

  • Get your keepsakes out the attic, garage, or the basement
  • Avoid having collections in areas prone to flooding, high humidity and temperature fluctuations.
  • Have multiple copies and distribute copies of essential records geographically (among family members, for example)

Handling

  • Minimize handling and always handle with care
  • Fully support items
  • Make sure hands are clean
  • Make access copies— store the original safely and use copies for display, access, and handling

Storage ProtectionPhotograph of an open archival box

  • Protect items from dust, light, and handling with acid-free boxes, folders, or polyester sleeves
  • Use safe and inert plastics

If you’re not sure… ask someone for advice.

For more preservation information, please feel free to contact Jennifer Blomberg, Head of the Collections Management Branch at the State Archives of North Carolina at (919) 807-7308 or at Jennifer.Blomberg@ncdcr.gov

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