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October 24, 2013

Preserving Your Travel Journal/ Octavofest, 2013 at Kelvin Smith Library

Following a short summary of this year’s Octavofest events at Kelvin Smith Library, this blog provides tips from a conservator on how to preserve your paper-based travel journal(s).

Kelvin Smith Library supports and actively participates in Octavofest, a multi-institutional yearly celebration of book and paper arts unique to Cleveland, Ohio. Because this year’s theme is “Travel”, October, 2013 events at Kelvin Smith Library included:

•“Around the World in 80 Books”, on display in the Hatch Reading Room through December 20th, is an exhibit of rare books, manuscripts, and archives about travel selected from the collections of Kelvin Smith Library. The exhibit covers a wide range of time periods and presents very different perspectives on travel. Items also represent different period styles of printing and binding, from ancient papyrus through ultra-contemporary art binding.
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An exhibit case displaying travel books in the Hatch Reading Room of Special Collections

•Travel Journal Workshop, conducted by book and paper artist Aimee Lee; participants enjoyed creating two different versions of personal travel journals using fine art papers.
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Artist Aimee Lee demonstrating a paper folding technique

•Presentation: Guest presenters Jared Bendis and Amy Kesegich shared their travel experiences and journaling practices, including electronic journaling.
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Jared Bendis shares his online travel blog. Amy Kesegich displays examples of her personal travel journals

Preserving Your Travel Journal

A travel journal, also called road journal or travelogue, is a record made by a voyager. Generally in diary form, a travel journal contains descriptions of the traveler's observations, feelings and experiences, and is normally written during the course of the journey. The intention of updating friends or family on the journey and recording thoughts and experiences to keep for future remembrances are some of the reasons these journals are kept.(content modified from Wikapedia). Travel journals often include photos, sketches/paintings created by the traveler of interesting people and places, as well as actual items from the trip such as menus, ticket stubs, matchbooks, and business cards that will remind the traveler of where they have been and what they experienced. Travel journals may be recorded in a paper-based journal or book as traditionally done, or more recently may be created online as blogs.

In order to ensure the physical preservation of your analog travel journal, three things must be considered:the original materials from which your journal is constructed; the protection required to keep your journal from harm while traveling is in progress, and the future storage conditions of your journal following your return home.

Original Materials:

The initial selection of a journal that is made from acid-free archival materials will prove invaluable for the future preservation of the journal and will insure that if given a reasonable storage environment the journal will not deteriorate rapidly over time.
• Paper and cover board: acid-free, lignin-free, buffered.
• Able to expand to hold items without stressing the binding, and open flat
• Pockets for loose objects made of acid-free paper, Bristol board or page protectors made from inert archival plastics such as Mylar (polyester), polypropylene or high-density polyethylene, or use archival plastic “corners”
• Avoid use of anything made of Vinyl and PVC!!! These plastics off-gas chemicals that can prematurely degrade paper! If the plastic has a “smell” it is not acceptable!
• Non-migrating stable adhesives such as acid free glue sticks, PVA. Only use archival tapes such as Filmoplast.
• Writing Utensils: Acid-free pigment-based single-pigment inks, (such as Pigma Micron pens), waterproof, fade proof inks, pencils. Use a writing tool based on the type most suited to the paper in your journal. Different types of inks may bleed when used on cotton/rag art-type papers, or smear on coated papers.
• All materials should pass the PAT (Photographic Activity Test.)

Protection During Travel:

• Protect your journal from the elements such as weather, sand, and dirt by purchasing a waterproof case to hold it while traveling or at least putting it in a heavy zip-lock bag. (NOT for long-term storage)
• Do not leave a journal in a hot car or in direct sunlight for long periods of time.
• Make sure your journal is protected in a waterproof enclosure when at the beach or near a pool.
• Keep the journal away from pets or local dogs, and small children.
• Do not “cram” an unprotected journal into an overly stuffed backpack or suitcase
• Be sure to include your contact information in the journal in case it is lost.

Long-term preservation of your journal:

• Store in a cool, dry, stable interior environment, minimize exposure to light, especially sunlight.
• Optimum storage conditions: 65-70F, 35-55% RH.
• Maintain good air circulation.
• Avoid storing paper-based items in a basement, garage, or attic, or near heat registers.
• Do not store near windows or outside walls.
• Store away from overhead water or waste pipes.
• Avoid preventable exposure to airborn pollutants; do not smoke around your journal or store it in an area where food is cooked and prepared.
• Store in a sturdy acid/lignin free buffered archival box.
• Wash hands before handling; keep away from food and drink.
• Clean and dust your bookcase or storage area regularly to discourage insects and pests that eat glues, molds and papers.

For more questions or information about preservation, please contact Preservation (216)368-3465.

For questions or information about the Hatch Travel exhibition, contact Scholarly Resources and Special Collections staff,216-368-0189.

For more information about Octavofest events at Kelvin Smith Library, contact Gail Reese,216-368-5291.


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