Tuesday, December 18, 2012

New Year, New Library: Digital Preservation on the Cheap, Book Mount Edition

As we've gained staff this year, we're able to work on some projects that had been on the back burner in previous years, such as taking stock of our woefully neglected rare books room. As far as I can tell, there hasn't been a proper accounting of what's in there, and we now have eager part-time librarians and interns who want to learn about preservation, digitization, and the original cataloging that comes with those topics. I repeat: you have not properly preserved nor digitized an item until there is robust metadata to go with it. End rant.

One of our part-time librarians has a nice camera, and has been trained to catalog, so what's left is to train this staff member to preserve and digitize. Book mounts can be remarkably expensive for being a few pieces of foam, but we have a trick up our sleeve: Michael's. Yes, the craft store.

My first library job was in preservation for a small theological library in New York City, where I blew a bunch of money on Mylar, and my third was guillotining and digitizing books at a large Midwestern university (yes, I was there for Double Fold, in which two of my bosses are quoted out of context), so I have some background on this area of librarianship. If you are into preservation, Michael's should be your best friend.

That large foam board is $5.99. The four cones are $3.99 each. Placing two cones on each side, slide them closer or further depending on the angle you want. Those three sheets of felt, with sticker backing, are $.99 each. Use them as needed, on the cones and on the board to reduce slippage and to protect the book or pamphlet. The sum of these materials is $26.42, including Maryland state tax. A book mount costs approximately ten times this. Budgets are tight. Get creative.


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  2. That’s certainly ingenious of you guys. Hopefully it was useful in digitizing your collections. We made another version of a makeshift digitizing area, where 2 cameras were mounted in angles and the book was laid open as it naturally is, therefore foregoing the need to over-bending the spine to get all the content. I might say it was quite effective, especially for bigger books.

    Ruby Badcoe