Tag Archives: preservation training

Luce preservation training, part 2.

by Michele Brown

The next phase of the Luce intern training program has begun. Chen Zhimei from Xiamen University and Zhang Chunmei from Fudan University recently finished four weeks of basic preservation training with our department.

Book repair

Zhimei (left) and Chunmei learning book repair.

The first grant provided training to librarians from 4 institutions in Beijing: the Chinese Agricultural Library, Renmin University, Peking University and Tsinghua University. The new grant targets the preservation needs of  libraries in other areas of mainland China and Taiwan: Fudan University, Xiamen University, Shanghai Jiao Tong University, National Taiwan University, Nanjing Agricultural University, National Chengchi University, Jilin University and Wuhan University.

The purpose of the training is to acquaint librarians in Mainland China and Taiwan with preservation techniques for their growing collections of Western-style bindings. We focus on the repair of circulating books. Other topics covered are: care and handling of library materials, exhibit support construction, simple enclosures, mold mitigation/ remediation, and disaster training.

We began by making blank books using Coptic sewing and case binding construction. Making a blank book is a good way to get acquainted with the materials and construction of many mass-produced, Western style books. We used Canapetta cloth for the spines and Iris Nevins marbled paper for the sides.

Testing grain direction.

Testing grain direction.

Link-stitch sewing.

Link-stitch sewing.

Finished books.

Finished books.

After discussing the history of Western bookbinding we visited the Rare and Manuscripts Collection where Curator Laurent Ferri showed some  unique examples of Cornell’s rare books.

Visiting the Kroch Rare and Manuscripts Collection.

Visiting the Kroch Rare and Manuscripts Collection.

Then, we moved on to repairing circulating books. The methods we use have been designed for quick, yet strong repair of books that circulate outside of the library. Depending on the damage, we categorize book repair as “partial”, “half” or “full.”  Here is a slideshow showing full book repair.

Chunmei reconstructs the cover of a damaged book.

Chunmei reconstructs the cover of a damaged book.

Zhimei has just put down the new cloth joint of this book.

Zhimei has just put down the new cloth joint of this book.

Simple enclosures can provide low-cost, effective protection for vulnerable materials so Zhimei and Chunmei learned how to make MM (marginal materials) cases, sometimes known as phase boxes, out of 20 pt. folder stock.

Making an MM case.

Making an MM case.

We learned from previous interns that libraries in China have a lot of paperback and glue bindings, so we explored stiffening and glue binding techniques.

We rehearsed disaster response and salvage and discussed how to make an effective disaster plan.

Drying wet books.

Drying wet books.

During the final week, they met with Michele Hamill and Jill Iacchei to get an overview of how to care for flat materials and photographs. We also visited the Syracuse University preservation department to see how another institution handles book repair.

We concluded  by reviewing materials and vendors for archival supplies. Zhimei and Chunmei made book models with cutaways that showed some of the techniques they learned.

Zhimei (left) and Chunmei are holding their book models.

Zhimei  and Chunmei with their book models.

Zhimei and Chunmei returned to China at the beginning of June. They have plans to set up preservation operations in their own libraries. We had a great time and hope to see them again. In September we will have interns from Shanghai Jiao Tong University and the National Taiwan University.




Welcome Chen Hong and Zhang Huili

By Michele Brown

Chen Hong, Director of Circulation at  Tsinghua Library and Zhang Huili of the Special Collections Department at Peking University are the fourth pair of librarians from China to participate in the care of circulating collections training program funded by the Luce Foundation.  Hong and Huili  arrived in Ithaca September 16 and began working with us September 23. This week-end they will return to Beijing.



They began by learning how to determine the grain direction of paper.









Then, they sewed and bound their own blank books.








They learned how to do full and partial repairs, fan glue bindings and constructing phase boxes.










We discussed disaster preparation and salvaged some wet books and documents.





They visited the Mann Library Preservation Department and Special Collections vault, and spoke to Frank Brown about the Mann Library preservation program.








Finally, they learned how to construct exhibit supports.




Many thanks to our translators and all of the people who helped make the program a success.



Welcome Pan Wei and Zhang Hongping

by Michele Brown

Our internship program for librarians from China continues as we welcome two librarians from the China Agricultural University Library in Beijing.  Pan Wei, Deputy Director and Zhang Hongping, Associate Research librarian, arrived in Ithaca May 11 and started working  in the Conservation Lab May 20. They began by making pamphlets.

Lily (one of our translators) watches Pan Wei (center) and Hongping (right) sew pamphlets.


Then, they learned how to make case bindings before learning how to repair books from the circulating collection.





















On Monday, we visited the book repair department at Syracuse University.

Pan Wei and Hongping observe a student in the Syracuse book repair lab.


We have enjoyed working with our 2 translators: Lily and Jiali.

Jiali Wang is a second year student at the Cornell Institute for Public Affairs, with a concentration in economics.

Lily Xue Dong is a Chinese LL.M student in Cornell Law School Class 2013.

A little help from our friends…

by Michele Brown

Kelly and Lucy have completed their internship in conservation and will spend another week visiting Cornell libraries and Ithaca sights.

The internship program provides both hands-on experience and lectures in preservation theory and techniques. These can be complicated concepts to convey and we have relied on native Chinese speakers in the Cornell community to help us communicate. Four students and a library collection assistant have served as translators for our visiting interns.

Yun Peng (Penny) will receive her M. Eng. in Electrical Engineering from Cornell in May. Before coming to Cornell, she received her B.S. in Electrical Engineering from Purdue University.

After graduation she will be employed as a Researcher in the Electric Power Research Institute in Beijing. Penny was at first attracted to being a translator for our intern program because she saw it as an opportunity to meet professionals from some of the top universities in China. While translating for the first 2 interns she also discovered that book conservation is very interesting. For her, translating is a good way to use her knowledge of English. “Helping the interns to communicate gives me a sense of achievement.”

Xuejiao Yang (Snow) was born in Beijing and grew up in Malaysia.

She received a B.S. in Electrical Engineering from the University of Washington in Seattle, and in May she will receive an M. Eng. in Electrical Engineering from Cornell. In September she will begin a position for the International Engineering Company in Beijing. She has enjoyed translating because she enjoys learning about another subject outside of her area of expertise. Translation skills will also help in her future work which will involve negotiating with companies outside of China. Snow is also fluent in Malay, plays the violin and piano, and enjoys ballet.

Venna Wang is a sophomore biological sciences major with a concentration in microbiology in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences (CALS).

She grew up in Queens, and she enjoys music and art She “plays the flag” in the Cornell marching band.  Venna enjoys translating because “it’s fun”, and she’s been happy to learn more about books, which she discovered are structurally a lot more complicated than she had realized.


Tianwang Liu is a freshman economics major in College of Arts and Sciences.

She is from Shandoung Province in China and enjoys singing, playing the piano, and playing the Guzheng. She watches movies to relax during study breaks. When we asked her what she enjoys most about translating she said, “As a student, working for the preservation department opens a new world for me, because instead of only reading books, I can know how books are made and repaired. It is amazing!”

Jing Carlson works as a collection assistant at the East Asian Collection (Wason) of the Kroch Library.

In the Cornell library system her main responsibilities include doing collection administrative management, assisting the curator to develop the collection, and coordinating with other units.

Jing is also an active participant in Cornell’s East Asia Program’s outreach activities.  As an educator for the East Asia Program she has taught members of the Ithaca community about calligraphy, Chinese art, cooking, and language.  Jing has also worked as a translator on campus and for the Ithaca City School District as well as the Racker Center.  Her current translating work builds on the experience she had while still living in China doing Chinese- Japanese translation.

Jing moved to the United States from Beijing in the 1990s. She loves art, cooking, hiking and has an interest in residential architecture and fengshui design. She has been living in Ithaca since 2000.  She enjoys family life here with her two sons and husband.

Jing has found time during her working hours to fill in when Penny, Snow, Venna and Tianwang have had scheduling conflicts.

We will miss Penny and Snow, but we look forward to working with Venna and Tianwang in the fall. We will rely on Jing as a resource for the next 2 interns from China who will arrive on May 13.


China intern program

We are excited to welcome the first 2 interns in our China intern program on November 1.

“Knowledge creation is global. With fewer barriers to cross-border research, the well-being of collections in other countries is directly linked to the research we do at Cornell and around the world, and it benefits from their accessibility,” said Xin Li, Associate University Librarian for Central Library Operations. “Helping Chinese librarians preserve these materials ensures they’ll be around for the long run, which is part of the global mission of a land-grant university.”

Read the complete press release and visit the Grant-funded projects page  for more information about this program. Look for updates about our participants and what they will be learning while they are here at Cornell.