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News Student Blog: University of Michigan Library

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Before and after treatment photos of the Chinese binding.

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.

​Left: Yan uses the stapler machine to make pamphlet bindings, image courtesy of Jeff Gilboe. Right: Yan consolidates powdery leather with brush, image courtesy of Kyle Clark.

One of the goals of the internship is to gain confidence in decision making and to hone my treatment skills. I was assigned to projects with multiple volumes that have similar problems, so that I have the opportunity to repeat specific types of treatment multiple times. For example, I am currently working on a set of four full-leather bound books that require corner consolidation and rebacking.

Overall, I am grateful for the opportunity to have this experience. I look forward to the rest of my year in Michigan!

— Yan Ling Choi, WUDPAC Class of 2020

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In this blog post, WUDPAC Class of 2020 Fellow Yan Ling Choi shares her experiences caring for general and special collections as a Cathleen Baker Conservation Fellow at the University of Michigan Library.

​In this blog post, WUDPAC Class of 2020 Fellow Yan Ling Choi shares her experiences caring for general and special collections as a Cathleen Baker Conservation Fellow at the University of Michigan Library.

2/10/2020
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  • The Department of Art Conservation
  • 303 Old College
  • University of Delaware
  • Newark, DE 19716, USA
  • Phone: 302-831-3489
  • art-conservation@udel.edu