January 31, 2012

Preservations Efforts Update

An observant reader will have noticed the very delicate condition of many of the books, some of which date back 100-140 years. They have been attacked by bugs, acid, humidity and time. Preservation is therefore a priority and BRC is employing several methods to achieve this.

Every book will be scanned and put online on our website. Dissemination is the most effective means of preservation.

Fumigating rids the books of destructive bugs.

Strict climate and temperature control also help to preserve the works for many more years than normal.

The most delicate books have been carefully laminated by a team of professionals. A special acid-free tissue is applied both sides of the page, creating a half inch gutter that can be used for binding.

The tissue extends the life of the paper by at least 50 years. It can also be removed and replaced at a later date without damage to the paper.

The disadvantage is that the tissue is opaque so the text becomes somewhat obscured. However, after scanning it, the image can be manipulated by computer so that the text becomes clear again.

The lamination can be seen in the above sample. The page on left is a typical acid-affected, brittle page. A similar page after lamination is on the right. The top right damaged corner is squared and a one-inch gutter has been created down the left side to enable the book to be rebound.

Another system is to have important works reproduced on metal plates. Locally there is a system for exact reproduction of any image onto thin zinc plate. What this means is that the writing on any ancient manuscript can be exactly copied thus preserving the original work as it is. If carefully handled these metal plates can last thousands of years!