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News Student Blog: University of Chicago Library

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​Left: Removing the previous mends and aligning the torn pieces of plate 1 on a light table. Right: ​WUDPAC Class of 2021 Fellow Yungjin Shin carefully rolling off the sheet of Mylar from the lined map. (Photos: Yungjin Shin and Ann Lindsey.)

​I started my third-year internship amid the pandemic in September 2020 at the University of Chicago Library's Conservation Unit. Following the University's response to COVID-19, I only worked from home until mid-November and then started working onsite twice a week, up to now. It has been a great challenge in adjusting to this new format of internship, but I have learned a lot from the unexpected. What I pictured of my third-year internship at UChicago, pre-pandemic, was delving into treatment projects on unique and various collection materials from the Library's Special Collections, working collaboratively with the Library staff, and visiting other conservation labs in the Chicago area. Instead, I have created several book models, focused on learning new treatment skills, met Library staff through Zoom, led a workshop on traditional Korean bookbinding, and planned to tour other library labs virtually.

​Left: Before treatment of plate 8 in raking light. Right: After treatment of plate 8 in raking light. (Photos: Yungjin Shin.)

​As the University of Chicago Library is built to support the needs of the students, faculty, and staff, the materials that come into the conservation lab for treatment are heavily based on their use. However, there has been low use of the Special Collections materials by students, faculty, and researchers due to the current situation, which resulted in a low flow of books and papers to the conservation lab. Ann Lindsey, the Head of Conservation, and I decided to rather focus on picking up new treatment skills that I have not practiced before. The treatments include Todd Pattison's technique of paper reback on cloth case binding, paper lining, pulp filling on a suction table, leather rebinding, and more.

​Left: Yungjin dyeing Korean paper in Gardenia seed extract to get yellow color for the covers. Right: Hang-drying the dyed sheets of Korean paper. (Photos: Ann Lindsey and Yungjin Shin.)

​One treatment example is the paper lining treatment on ten maps from a book, Construction & manoeuvre des bateaux & embarcations à voilure latine: peche, batelage, pilotage, plaisance… (1897). The foldout maps of boat structures were removed from the book and separately housed in the Map Collection. These maps were proposed to be lined with long-fibered Asian paper and wheat starch paste, due to the extremely brittle nature of the machine-made paper and the previous mending. This was a good example that shows how too much paste and moisture used in paper mending can cause even more damage on fragile papers. The previous repair attempted to fix the tears and losses on the maps, but it was causing cockling, tidelines, and more tears. Fortunately, all media on the maps was stable in water and printed only on one side, so the verso of the maps could be lined with another layer of thin Japanese paper. The maps are now stable and can be handled safely by the users, as the fragile paper with numerous tears and losses is supported with durable paper.

​Left: Burnishing the cover paper on the carved wood using a smooth stone. Books on the left are historical Korean side-stitched bindings. Right: Completed Korean side-stitched binding with burnished covers.  (Photos: Yungjin Shin.)

Another project that I am excited about is the workshop on Korean side-stitched binding. My supervisor, Ann Lindsey, eagerly supported my research interest in traditional Korean bindings and suggested doing an in-house workshop on the binding. Even though the Library does not hold old Korean books, Ann believes it is always helpful to learn a new binding style to expand the connoisseurship as a conservator. I have developed an instruction for the side-stitched binding and led a workshop for the very first time. The most fun part was on recreating the burnished covers. For this process, I carved a piece of basswood with a traditional Swastika pattern to burnish the paper on and dyed Korean paper with Gardenia seed extract. This workshop was a great experience, sharing what I have learned about this binding with others and making the historic model after months of reading related literature. I am very grateful to have all this variety of experience because it would not have been possible without the generous and supportive people in the Conservation and Preservation Departments of the University of Chicago Library.

— Yungjin Shin, WUDPAC Class of 2021

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WUDPAC Class of 2021 Fellow Yungjin Shin talks about her internship at the University of Chicago Library, the lining treatment of ten 19th-century maps, and preparing a workshop on Korean side-stitched book bindings.

​WUDPAC Class of 2021 Fellow Yungjin Shin talks about her internship at the University of Chicago Library, the lining treatment of ten 19th-century maps, and preparing a workshop on Korean side-stitched book bindings.

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  • The Department of Art Conservation
  • 303 Old College
  • University of Delaware
  • Newark, DE 19716, USA
  • Phone: 302-831-3489