Preservation Week 2017

Preservation Week is here again! This weeklong celebration of preservation and conservation activities in libraries, archives, and museums is the brainchild of ALCTS, the Association for Library Collections and Technical Services, a branch of the American  Library Association. Later this week we’ll be sharing two guest blog posts on the preservation and conservation concerns of two common kinds of bindings: case binding and library binding. 

While conservation and preservation are words used somewhat interchangeably in everyday conversation, in the library world they have specific, but intertwining, meanings. Preservation refers to the steps taken to slow the deterioration of materials. These steps include environmental controls provided by an HVAC system, housing items in neutral-pH folders and boxes, and reducing exposure to light whenever possible. Conservation refers to the steps taken once an item has been damaged and needs repair, cleaning, or restoration. If you’ve been following our Instagram feed, you may have noticed some photographs of metal artifacts at various points in the cleaning process. This is a conservation project we’re currently tackling. 

If you have questions about preservation, conservation, or Preservation Week, don’t hesitate to contact us here at the museum. There are also lots of great free resources at the Preservation Week website

Information Professionals Open House

Are you a librarian, archivist, museum specialist, or other kind of information professional? On Tuesday, November 29, from 6-8pm, The American Bookbinders Museum is having a reception just for you in order to share our exhibit on the Florence Flood of 1966, entitled BOOKS AND MUD: THE DROWNED LIBRARIES OF FLORENCE.

Come join us – check out the new exhibit and schmooze with your colleagues!







How to Use the ABM Library

The ABM Library and Archives are up and running! Not everything has been

A colorful portion of our collection.

A colorful portion of our collection.

cataloged yet – more is added to our catalog every week – but with over 3,000 items in the library catalog and close to 18 linear feet of archival documents and photographs organized, it seems like time and past to publicly declare the materials available for use.

This is a remarkable collection, and I enjoy every moment I spend exploring, cataloging, and arranging. I’m learning a great deal. The primary resource I’m using for cataloging is OCLC WorldCat, which is an online catalog gathering the collections of over 72,000 participating libraries in more than 170 countries and territories. WorldCat is a fantastic resource for anyone doing research, because when you search for an item, it offers you two important details: which library holds which edition of the publication, and where they are in relation to your location.


Pension societies and Almshouses for Bookbinders

This post is the second of a series of features written by our archivist, Jae Mauthe, exploring the development of charitable organizations devoted to social services for bookbinders.

The industrial revolution brought about many changes to the worklife of bookbinders. Bookbinder John Jaffery sought social reform in Victorian London through the London Working Men’s Association, which was established in 1836.  Jaffery fought to improve the situation of workers and to provide aid to those in need. (As described in the previous installment of this series.) Industrialization created a shift from life in the countryside towards the development of cities and towns, which led to rapid population growth, unemployment, and increased poverty. This cycle eventually led to the foundation of the country’s poor laws in 1834. These had a huge impact on bookbindery workers because of the itinerant nature of their work. Many workers seasonally found themselves out of work and in need of assistance. (more…)

From the Archivist’s Desk: John Jaffray

This post is the first of a series of features written by our archivist, Jae Mauthe, exploring the development of charitable organizations devoted to social services for bookbinders.

I read a moving post on the British Library’s “Untold Lives” blog a couple years back.  It was about an 18th century London bookbinder named Richard Smith. Smith was failing at his trade and a prisoner for debt within liberties to the King’s bench. The Poor Laws had failed him, the Parish workhouses couldn’t help and after paying his landlord what he could, Smith and his wife killed their two year old daughter then hung themselves. This act of total desperation seemed the only way out for the Smith family at the time. I was struck by the level despair and “inveterate hatred for poverty and rags” this man had: he had tried everything and, yet, the series of events that caused this debt convinced him he would forever live a life of ‘numbing poverty’ with no way of seeing his way clear. (more…)

Bump in the Archive

Witchcraft has long been brewing in American culture.  Since the Salem witch trials and the Puritans attempt to snuff these alleged practitioners out, occultism has thrived in one form or another.  From secret societies practicing alchemy, to claims of the supernatural or various magical beliefs, important collections of the occult reside in libraries and archives around America and Canada. Most of these collections are open for research and many are online. (more…)

Invisible Ink

I’ll confess as a kid I loved espionage: clandestine conversations, dark alley meetings, secret passageways. If it involved a high-level adventure… with a low-level of forgery… with maybe a secret handshake, I was in; and truth be told I still might be.  Growing up pre-mobile phones and computers, note passing was the main form of communication throughout my education.  I spent a lot of time on ciphers and codes and, of course, invisible ink because about 20-30 percent of all transmissions were intercepted by instructors. Looking back I am sure no one really cared what my youthful mind had to say, but I was sure that if caught I would be punished to the full extent of the elementary school penal code. So I stayed under the radar and wrote in my version of invisible ink: lemon juice applied with a toothpick. When the secret writing was heated writing would appear. Taking Meyer lemons off the tree in the backyard and running to my room to squeeze them into ink was particularly thrilling; yet again if caught probably nothing would have happened, though I pretended it would. (more…)