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Thursday, June 1 • 2:00pm - 2:30pm
(Book & Paper) Re-engineering Broken Book Spines

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Books provide a unique set of considerations for the conservator, as they seek to preserve not only the volume's historic record but in most cases also its functionality. Often, the fragility of the historic materials makes it difficult to maintain function without sacrificing the object's history, limiting a future researcher's ability to ask and answer certain questions. Thus, employing a treatment that can improve a book's accessibility while protecting its physical historic record is ideal. For more than fifty years, variations of a spine reback have been the primary option to repair books and their spine covers. The technique is effective but invasive, requiring the conservator to lift or remove original components to anchor newly added repair materials. The treatment we propose is an innovation in book repair that will offer conservators an alternative. Originally developed by Jana Dambrogio over 15 years ago while studying and conserving two large and diverse historic collections, this treatment is tailored for books with broken spines or detached boards. The Re-engineering Broken Book Spines research group (RBBS), formed two years ago, performed variations of this treatment on more than 20 books found in the General and Special Collections of the MIT Libraries. The group will present information about how the treatments have fared on the books over the last two years including the benefits and limitations of the procedure. Often the damage occurs at the "joints” and "hinges”, the flexible areas that allow the front and back covers to flex open and close. The repair uses methyl cellulose, wheat starch paste, various weights of Japanese tissues, and sometimes textile for badly damaged or heavy books. This treatment is delicate yet sturdy, and though originally developed for non-circulating special collections, recently it has also been implemented into circulating collections. With its versatility, noninvasiveness, aesthetic sensitivity, and time and material economy, this repair results in a custom-made, functional, and historically-conscious treatment that serves well for both special- and general-collections care.

avatar for Jana Dambrogio, [PA]

Jana Dambrogio, [PA]

Thomas F. Peterson (1957) Conservator, MIT Libraries, Curation & Preservation Services
Jana Dambrogio has been working in the preservation field for 15 years as a conservator, consultant, and teaching professional. She has held positions at the US National Archives, the United Nations, the Vatican Secret Archives, and is currently the Thomas F. Peterson (1957) Conservator... Read More →

avatar for Katherine Beattie

Katherine Beattie

Preservation Associate, MIT Libraries
Kate Beattie is a graduate of North Bennet Street School and has been a member of MIT Libraries Preservation Department for 30 years.
avatar for Brien Beidler

Brien Beidler

Exhibitor, The Legacy Press
Brien Beidler began learning traditional hand bookbinding under the tutelage of Marie Ferrara in 2009, while he was a student at the College of Charleston. From 2012-2016 he served as the Director of the Bindery and Conservation Studio at the Charleston Library Society, where he oversaw... Read More →
avatar for Emily Hishta Cohen

Emily Hishta Cohen

Book Conservator, Private Practice
Emily Cohen is completing her final year at the Conservation Center of the Institute of Fine Arts, where she has been an Andrew W. Mellon Library & Archives Fellow. She is currently a graduate intern at the Wunsch Conservation Lab at The Massachusetts Institute of Technology Libraries... Read More →

Ayako Letizia

Conservation Associate, MIT Libraries
Ayako joined the Wunsch Conservation Lab of the MIT Libraries in 2010. She earned her diploma in hand bookbinding from the North Bennet Street School (2004) and the a diploma from the West Dean College in Sussex, England (2006). Previous internships and work appointments at Harvard... Read More →
avatar for Mary Uthuppuru

Mary Uthuppuru

Artist and Head of Conservation Services, Springleaf Press
Mary Uthuppuru is a full time book binder and artist who creates artist books, bindings, boxes, and prints inspired by science, literature and travel. After receiving a BA in Art History and a Masters in Library Science with a specialization in rare books she closely studied the history... Read More →

Thursday June 1, 2017 2:00pm - 2:30pm CDT
Regency A-B Ballroom Level, West Tower