One of the best ways to promote an institution’s collections—especially special collections and archives—is through exhibitions. There are a number of points to consider when putting on an exhibition, but there are plenty of resources available on this topic, and since I don’t have any direct experience putting on an exhibit, I won’t be going into that now. (In brief: preservation!) Additionally, our hands-on work for this session was fairly straightforward, so this post is going to be comparatively brief—I’m simply going to show off the mounts I created.
I’m also sorry to say that this might be the last entry in my collection maintenance series; we do have two sessions left, but those involve lectures in the morning and tours (of ACME Bindery and the MIT Conservation Laboratory) in the afternoon. I’m sure I’ll learn plenty at the tours, but unless photos are permitted (and I find myself taking them), I might not post about them here. In any case, let’s look at some custom exhibition mounts.
The first thing we worked on was mounting a sheet of paper. We accomplished this with Japanese tissue and polyethylene strips. The tissue was easier to work with, but it conceals content, so in some cases the polyethylene strips work better.
Once the paper is mounted onto the board, the wedge is created. Measurements are taken (although our board was precut), and then the board is scored with a blade up to about three-quarters of the way through, at which point it will fold nicely. Then the two ends are adhered with double-stick tape. Optionally, the board on the paper mount can also be adhered to the wedge.
Creating a cradle involves propping the book up into the desired shape (but allowing the book to tell you how far it’s willing to open) and taking measurements. Then, as with the wedge, the board is scored and folded, only here there are both mountain and valley folds—in other words, some folds are scored on the front, and others on the back. Then the board is folded, and double-stick tape is adhered to the bottom of the spine support, which is then adhered to the inside of the base (hopefully the second image below will make this clear).
The last mount we made is designed to showcase a book’s cover. This was an interesting process, because the design was based off of another cradle that our professor has seen, but it was modified to be made from a single piece of board. We ended up making some alterations to the design on the fly to try to get it right, and unfortunately my final product had the very defect we were trying to eliminate. (I’m still not sure whether the final instructions were still incorrect or if I simply wrote something down incorrectly.)
Despite the trouble, the thought process behind designing the mount and then making alterations when it was found to be insufficient was really interesting (and, I’m not ashamed to say, rather fun)—not to mention great experience, since that reasoning skill is exactly what I’ll need on the job. Who said English (and library science) students didn’t need to understand basic geometry?