It has been over four months since I began my third-year
internship as a Cathleen Baker Conservation Fellow at the University of
Michigan Library. As one of the largest research libraries in the United
States, the library contains over eight million physical volumes in the
collection. The Department of Preservation & Conservation, where I interned
under the supervision of Shannon Zachary and Marieka Kaye, is responsible for
the care and maintenance of the University Library’s collections. Strategies,
including conservation treatments, are developed to maintain such a large collection.
One of the many unique and exciting things I like is that
the lab is responsible for treating materials from both the general and special
collections. Therefore, I have had the opportunity to learn about various treatment
approaches that are based on different needs and goals for different types of collections.
For instance, I spent over a hundred hours stabilizing a 19th-century
Chinese binding from the Asia Library special collection when conservation
treatment was requested for an upcoming special library event. Because the
binding will be stored and used in a monitored and controlled environment, the
adhesive I chose for the mending is relatively weak and easily reversible. In
contrast, I spent just half an hour making over 30 pamphlet bindings for
general collection materials, including music scores, art magazines, and journals,
which will be checked out and used by students and researchers in an
unmonitored environment. Because of the large number of bindings coming through
the lab, this approach is the most time-efficient method for keeping the thin
and weak bindings safe to be used.