State Library of Victoria
Conservation have been working on exhibition and digitisation programs, alongside the treatment of collections. As part of the treatment program, we are investigating a number of new materials for future treatments, including gelling agent gellan gum, SC6000 consolidant emulsion, and very fine pre-toned Tengucho tissue that we are eager to test and evaluate. We have also been investigating the supply and quality of book covering stock for the main library collection.
The last few months has also seen a number of changes and appointments in staff. Senior Conservation Technician Carolyn Fraser has temporarily moved to Exhibitions as Curator and Jarno Coone has stepped in to fill the role. We are sad to lose Yvonne Hearn who is now the Ian Potter Foundation Paper Conservation Fellow at the National Gallery of Victoria. Peter Mitchelson has returned to the book conservation team. Numbers in paper conservation have been boosted with the appointment Noni Zachri and Jessica McElhinney, though Jessica will soon be heading to Ottawa, Canada for a CCI internship, following the completion of her Masters of Conservation. Conservation student Lois Waters has recently started as a volunteer in paper conservation.
The book and paper conservation teams have completed preparation items for a major changeover of Dome Gallery exhibition Changing Face of Victoria, which will be installed in May under the supervision of Exhibitions and Loans Conservator Amanda Wild. Work is well underway toward the next changeover of Mirror of the World in October under the supervision of Book Conservator Katrina Ben.
Registrar Sarah Haselton is managing the tour preparation for Australian Sketchbook: Colonial Life and the Art of ST Gill which tours to the NLA in early June, and the Heroes and Villains: Strutt’s Australia opening at the SLV in July. Both exhibitions have been developed in partnership with the NLA. The paper conservation team are currently working on condition reports for the tour, including those on loan from other institutions. Senior Paper Conservator Marika Kocsis and Conservation Coordinator Jane Hinwood will travel to Canberra for the installation of the ST Gill exhibition in June.
Marika Kocsis and Book Conservator Ian Cox were involved in the preparation and installation of the Irish Rising exhibition, on display in the Blue Rotunda until the end of July. The exhibition commemorates the 1916 six-day uprising in Dublin that marked a pivotal moment in the Irish struggle for independence from Great Britain. Conservators Helen McPherson and Albertine Hamilton recently assisted in the consolidation of friable graphite drawings on old catalogue cards for a staff exhibition that utilised discontinued Library materials and pencils.
Marika Kocsis and Albertine Hamilton, assisted by Jessica McElhinney, are completing treatment of an oversized rolled chart produced in 1861 by James McKain Meek, who at the time worked as a Librarian at the Melbourne Public Library. An overview of the treatment will be presented at the next AICCM Book, Paper and Photograph Symposium in October.
In February and March, conservation staff participated in an in-house workshop run by Karen Vidler of Book Conservation Services, Castlemaine. The training focused on book conservation materials and techniques, particularly relating to adhesives, consolidants, and methods of board reattachment.
Jean Holland, Katrina Ben and Ian Cox conducted the annual training day for Melbourne University conservation students, teaching the construction of phase boxes and display cradles for book material.
Preservation and Processing Coordinator Kate Holloway is assessing a series called Southern Grocer, 1911-1955 (approximately 32 bound volumes and 11 loose volumes) in preparation for digitisation. Most volumes are in good condition and can be scanned without issue, while others require minor treatment before image capture. There are some great images of fruit and vegetable production and some wonderful advertisements, e.g. for pest control products such as ‘Just Keep on Killing’!
The Quarantine program is evaluating 30 newly arrived collections (approx. 90 items/boxes) requiring assessment for dirt, pests and mould. One example is 200 Church registers that all need vacuuming and boxing. At the other end of the spectrum, Preservation have recently received a pristine collection of about 600 Phantom comics, all Australian editions, which just need rehousing. Preservation staff have also been travelling offsite to assess potential donations, looking at the overall size and condition of various collections along with the housing and logistics for receiving the collections.
Preservation Technician Leah Williams is currently looking at the storage and housing for the more unusual materials in the collection – safety matches, bottled alcohol, batteries and electrical equipment, plasticine and wax moulds. With advice from Museum Victoria, we are developing specific standards for the long-term storage of non-standard and potentially unstable formats.
Preservation Technician Emily Keppel is rehousing some nineteenth century Illustrated Newspaper supplements that were removed from bound newspapers as part of an earlier digitisation project. This project to box the collection will enable more efficient use of prized storage space in our plan cabinets.
Preservation has been evaluating updating the Library’s data logging equipment to a wireless system. The aim being to more closely and immediately follow environmental conditions in storage spaces, independently of the BMS.