State Library of NSW
The Collection Care Digital Excellence team (DEP) welcomed assistant conservator Paula Thorby in July. Paula has moved across from the Preservation team and slotted straight into DEP. Welcome, Paula, to the team!
Book Conservator Nicole Ellis, of the Books, Objects and Paintings team, joined the Preservation team in July for an initial six months. While she will be greatly missed by the BOP team, this move will allow her to contribute to preventive conservation projects, procedures and policy development.
Meg Driver, Registrar, has been with Collection Care for the past year and finished her contract on 17 July as Lauren Dalla returned from parental leave at the end of July. Meg’s support for exhibitions and loans, and her contribution to the Branch, have been greatly appreciated.
Felicity Corkill returned to the Library on 6 July after parental leave, and Kate Hughes, who has been acting in the role of Senior Conservator, Books, Objects and Paintings team, for the past year, returned to the Paper and Photographic team on 29 June.
Ruth Drayson finished her contract at the end of June as a conservator in the Paper and Photographic team.
The branch welcomes the return of Bronwen Glover to the Library. Bronwen completed a year-long fellowship at CCI in book conservation, where she worked on book and paper conservation treatments and practised new and interesting bookbinding techniques. Bronwen has been working remotely with the Preservation team from Ontario, Canada, since June.
While the Library has been open to the public since June, Collection Care staff continue to balance working on-site with working from home. For the Paper and Photographic team, this has made it difficult to put in deadline-driven achievements, as deadlines have stretched well into the future both for in-house exhibitions and our external loans program.
The Library is currently developing a Map Room, to showcase the Library’s extensive map collection. Conservation treatment and mounting of items from the 17th to 20th century relating to exploration of the Pacific are underway.
Kate Hughes has been working with Anne Cummins on the conservation and cleaning of the Banks Endeavour silver globe punch bowl, a new acquisition, which will also grace the map room when it opens—hopefully—in November.
Wendy Richards has been conserving items from a new acquisition of a recently acquired archive of Pamela Allen material, which will be on display from the end of August. These are Allen’s working drawings and mock-up trials for her children’s books and are filled with Magic Tape so finding the delicate balance between treatment, artist’s technique and method in treating the material is complex.
Despite the limitations of lockdown, the Library has continued to acquire material and Trish Leen has been working through newly catalogued collections and individual items that require conservation treatment and rehousing prior to digitisation. These include plans, drawings and lists of plantings of gardens by Jocelyn Brown who designed private gardens in the Northern and Eastern suburbs of Sydney during the 1940s and 50s.
Dana Kahabka is continuing work on reducing the varnish on the Tasman map and Cecilia Harvey has been assisting the Storage team at the off-site store at Moorebank, preparing for collection moves.
Similarly, the DEP team has been working both on-site and at home. Kiki Lawler-Dormer and Hoa Huynh have been working with Annie Breslin, our moving image specialist, in preparing significant and at risk sprocketed 16mm film for digitisation as part of the Moving Image Project. The team performed transit winding for 34 film reels over three days and carefully packed items in archival film cans to ensure safe handling and minimal movement during shipment. The team also completed treatment of Edmund Blacket’s architectural plans. This has been a significant achievement for the team as the Blacket plans have been a large project in the digitisation program for the past three years.
The DEP team has also recently completed rehousing all 47 of the Library’s Miles Franklin pocket notebooks. Franklin was known as a diarist and kept an annual diary from 1909 until the end of her life. The DEP team rehoused each pocketbook in individual four-flap folders and then in one clamshell box. It took some lateral Tetris-like thinking to work out how to fit all 47 books into the one box!
Top left: Miles Franklin’s pocket notebooks were previously housed in a slip case. Top right: the smallest pocket notebook in a new four-flap folder. Bottom left: the pocket notebooks housed in trays within a clamshell box. Bottom right: Miles Franklin’s pocket notebooks in a new clamshell box.
Helen Casey and Cath Bartley installed the new Eight Days in Kamay exhibition, which opened on 13 July – an Indigenous response to Cook’s 250th anniversary. The exhibition was delayed due to the pandemic, but the Library had launched an innovative online exhibition, which now is a wonderful complement to the physical exhibition. This is something we are looking at continuing, going forward. The team is now working on an exhibition called Pandemic based on historic collection items relating to the 1918 Spanish flu and recent acquisitions related to the current COVID-19 pandemic.
The Collection Care staff have been virtually attending the AIC 2020 Virtual Meeting (48th Annual Meeting). To adapt to an online delivery platform, the conference program consists of 50–75 hours of programming spread across three months. With no sessions running concurrently and presentations recorded, staff have been able to attend more sessions than would otherwise have been possible during in-person meeting. This has been an excellent opportunity for staff to attend an international conference within the comfort of their homes!
Collection Care labs update
The development of the new Collection Care conservation labs is well underway. The contract was awarded in May and at the time of writing the demolition work is complete and partition walls are under construction. The conversion of two former library book stacks and a plant room in the oldest heritage-protected part of the building has posed some challenges. The fixtures, furniture and equipment for the new spaces are in the process of being finalised by the Lab User Group (representatives of the teams in Collection Care), with the project due for completion in late November.
The Collection Storage Coordinator has been busy planning the relocation to the State Library site, approx. 9000 linear metres of manuscripts, which have been stored off-site since 2016. New mobile shelving will soon be installed in a refurbished library stack, with new a/c and sprinkler layout.
In addition, 140 map/plan cabinets will soon be arriving in stages for re-housing maps and plans, with the aim of improving WHS during retrieval and increasing storage capacity (in the same footprint as the present cabinets).