Triage (Or How to Organize 1500 Books for Conservation Treatment)

After the photodocumentation was complete, the triage operation began. With a database to produce lists and totals, books could be categorized according to broad complexity of treatment. Almost all of the books would benefit from deacidification, but beyond that, they were divided according to what other treatments they needed: minor repairs, major repairs, or housing. Minor repairs included: fixing corners, hinges, loose (but not broken) sewing, a few paper tears, any small aesthetic problems; generally anything taking about 20 minutes or less to do. These were done in the library rather than being moved to the conservation lab, which is located in a different building.

Those needing major repairs were sent to the conservation lab. There, the book could be disbound, washed, sewn, rebound completely, or rebacked. Extensive paper repairs were also performed in the lab. While minor repairs require relatively few tools and materials, major repairs require a many more tools and equipment (such as book presses and washing sinks) and a wider variety of materials. These techniques can take from a day or two to a week to complete.