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Tuesday, May 30 • 3:00pm - 3:30pm
(Book & Paper) Removing Oil from Paper: A Collaborative Conservation Challenge

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The application of oil-based leather dressing, while once considered a best practice in libraries, has had undesirable long-term consequences for bound materials. At the National Institutes of Health (NIH) in the National Library of Medicine (NLM), a large number of leather-bound volumes had multiple applications of a mixture of neatsfoot oil and lanolin dressings liberally applied. The oils not only absorbed into the leather bindings but also migrated onto the pastedowns, end sheets, and text blocks. The oiling process at NLM was documented by call number, year(s), number of applications, and dressing formula. While investigating treatment options, NLM book conservator, Holly Herro, consulted paintings and objects conservator Scott Nolley for insight on viable options for the removal of oil from artifacts. A paper conservator, Wendy Cowan, joined the collaborative effort to develop a treatment protocol for NLM's oil saturated collections. Together, they investigated the issue and devised an effective method for removal of this oil from the NIH bound paper collection. The protocol developed employs washing with alkaline solutions, followed by alternating applications of petroleum ether and acetone administered over a suction point. Oil components are solubilized by the alternating polarities of the solvents and pulled out of the paper by the suction. The presence of the oil in the paper is thereby greatly reduced. The paper is then washed again with spray applications of alkaline water to remove any remaining water soluble discoloration. This talk will explore further details of the treatment protocol, its development and applications, and the benefits of cross-disciplinary collaboration

avatar for Holly Herro

Holly Herro

Holly Herro, Senior Conservator Emeritus, oversaw the Conservation Program at the National Library of Medicine on the National Institutes of Health campus in Maryland. She has been involved in conservation as a rare book and manuscripts conservator for over thirty years. Holly served... Read More →

avatar for Wendy Cowan

Wendy Cowan

Conservator of works of art on paper, Co-owner of Richmond Conservators of Works on Paper
Wendy Cowan received an MA in the conservation of fine art, specializing in works of art on paper, from the University of Northumbria at Newcastle England in 1999. In 2001 she received a Fulbright Scholarship to work at the Netherlands Institute of Cultural Heritage and the Teylers... Read More →
avatar for Scott Webster Nolley

Scott Webster Nolley

Chief Conservator, Fine Art Conservation of Virginia
Scott Webster Nolley, a native of Virginia, owns the Richmond based firm of Fine Art Conservation of Virginia. He was educated at The Collegiate Schools and received his undergraduate degree in Art Conservation from Virginia Commonwealth University. In 1996 he earned his Master's... Read More →
avatar for Kristi Wright

Kristi Wright

Book & Paper Conservator, Wright Conservation & Framing
Kristi Wright, MLIS, is a Book and Paper Conservator under contract with the History of Medicine Division of the U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health, Department of Health and Human Services.

Tuesday May 30, 2017 3:00pm - 3:30pm CDT
Regency A-B Ballroom Level, West Tower