Conservation Lab: Preservation

Cleaning the book stacks
Elephant folio shelving
Elephant folio with foam cradle
Mylar encapsulation
Negatives and film in cold storage
Overhead book scanner

The primary goal of preservation is to prolong the existence of the Library’s collections.

Climate Control

The Frick Collection ensures a stable environment to protect its cultural property. The Library strives to maintain a constant temperature of 70° F and 50 percent relative humidity. Temperature and relative humidity are monitored with Johnson Controls and dataloggers by the Engineering and the Conservation Departments, respectively. The Library and Museum’s  HVAC system filters out particulates and gaseous pollutants.

Cleaning of Stacks

Shelves and books throughout the Library are vacuumed and dusted by a trained technician on a yearly cycle.

Processing Acquisitions

All acquisitions are processed through the Conservation Department. Hardcover books are covered with polyester film to protect both book and dust jacket. Large softcover books are sent to the commercial bindery and pamphlets are sewn into acid-free binders. Paging Department staff works under the supervision of the conservators to sew pamphlets into binders and jacket hardcover books. Conservators evaluate pre-1970 imprints and fragile or nonstandard acquisitions to determine storage and treatment requirements.

Fragile Material

Original materials are housed in protective enclosures and their use restricted. Enclosures are constructed to protect fragile materials in storage. Acidic paper is treated with a nonaqueous alkalizing solution prior to encapsulation.

Off-site Storage

25% of the Library’s book collection are now stored off-site in a climate-controlled, high-density shelving storage facility. Prior to transferring material to the facility, they are bound or housed in protective containers and barcoded.

Staff Training

The Conservation Department trains Library staff in handling of Library materials. Staff are encouraged to bring materials that may require treatment to the Conservation Lab for assessment.

Cold Storage Facility

To slow chemical deterioration in unstable negatives, transparencies and rolled film, a 825 cubic foot walk in freezer was constructed on-site. The freezer contains 296 linear feet of Library and Archives material.

Digital Asset Creation

Long-term stewardship of digital assets is the priority of the Library’s digital program. As such, the Digital Imaging Lab adheres to the standards and best practices outlined in the Federal Agencies Digitial Guidelines Initiative’s (FADGI) Technical Guidelines for Digitizating Cultural Heritage Materials. Images are captured as TIFF files with resolution that records all recognizable information available from the original material. Each capture is saved as both an untouched, archival RAW file and a minimally edited production POST file. Metadata, embedded in the image file, tracks the image’s history including adjustments made in Adobe Photoshop.

File Integrity and Backups

To safeguard digital image files from media failure or other catastrophic loss, a storage RAID and two tape backups are maintained with each copy stored in a separate building on a two-week rotation schedule. To protect from file corruption and “bit rot,” the digital lab checks externally produced files with JHOVE and runs scheduled AIDE (Advanced Intrusion Detection Environment) MD5 and SHA256 checksum routines to minimize the possibility of errors.

Disaster Planning and Recovery

The Collection and Library Conservation Departments, in conjunction with the Operations and Security Departments, have implemented a comprehensive emergency response plan. Every department in the institution is represented in the Disaster Planning Team. Staff receives the Emergency Procedures Quick Reference Guide and emergency response kits are located on every floor of the Library.