December 26, 2013

Posters From Our Fall Exhibit: "Around the World in 80 Books"

The Scholarly Resources and Special Collections team collaborated on an exhibit this fall entitled "Around the World in 80 Books", a presentation of travel-related books and manuscripts in accord with the 2013 Octavofest Travel theme. Over the past year or so the team has experimented with selection and display of large framed images on the walls in the Hatch Reading Room to complement the display of materials in cases. For our Travel exhibit the following images were gathered from books, archives and manuscript collections:

To learn more about the Travel exhibit please feel free to contact us at or 216.368.0189.

Posted by exo2 at 09:07 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

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.
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.
DSC05452.jpg DSC05464.jpg
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.
DSC05515.jpg DSC05487.jpg
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.

Posted by sxg7 at 08:00 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

June 18, 2012

Small scale disaster recovery, or: the KSL Disaster Plan Works Again!

The Preservation Department of Kelvin Smith Library’s Scholarly Research and Special Collections team received the phone call on Wednesday, June 13th, a perfectly normal day. Workmen on the roof were performing maintenance on an air-conditioning unit when suddenly a water pipe burst, sending water cascading through the ceiling and onto a portion of the first 7 compact-shelf ranges of the library’s circulating collection on the third floor. The water also soaked a nearby women’s rest room and one of the library’s two elevators, but our concern in Preservation in such a situation was to quickly assess and recover the affected books. Time is extremely critical in a wet book/paper situation as mold can develop after only 24 hours.

Luckily for us we have an excellent up-to-date Disaster Plan in place that covers exactly this type of situation, including step by step instructions so there is no panic and everyone knows exactly how to proceed.

Assuring the safety of people always comes first in any disaster situation!
• Before entering the affected area, it was determined by Plant Services staff that there was not any shock hazard from wet electrical components.
• Before any staff entered the area, Plant Services removed wet ceiling tiles that were crumbling and falling so that no one could suffer injury from the falling debris, which can be quite heavy especially when wet.
• The water was not originating from a waste pipe, but was “grey water”, regular water that has passed through a ceiling and a roof, so it is still not really clean. Staff was reminded repeatedly to wash their hands after they were done handling the wet materials.
• Yellow caution tape was applied to the affected areas on both sides of the stacks and the movable shelving in that area was locked, preventing patron access.

After human safety issues were adequately addressed, the book salvage began in earnest! Plastic sheeting (kept on site in KSL and also from our offsite disaster supply cache) was brought from its designated locations and was draped over the nearby still-dry shelving areas to prevent them from becoming wet, as well as over the wet shelving units after the books were removed.


Over 1,000 books were removed from the shelves and placed on carts. They were then brought to a staging area on the second floor where student workers and volunteer staff were mobilized to sort the books according to degrees of wetness; the soaked books were packed in plastic milk crates (also brought from our disaster supply cache) and taken to a local freeze dry facility (already identified in our Disaster Plan)


The damp books were surface-wiped/dried with rags and then stood up and fanned-out on 13 tables with fans on each end. Because so many people volunteered, this took only 2-3 hours.

1000 books.JPG

Meanwhile, Library Administration staff contacted the University’s insurance and one special account was set up to charge all expenses related to the incident. The leak was repaired by Plant Services staff and the shelving area cleaned up. Fans were left running on each side of the affected stacks to dry them out, keep the air moving and to reduce humidity in the area. Administration dealt with the elevator and the rest room damage.

The following day, staff and students carefully checked each book and if thoroughly dry, placed them on book carts. Almost all of the damp books were dry after 18 hours. Preservation staff checked random books with a moisture meter to confirm that they were dry and had acceptable moisture content for books and paper. (The moisture meter was a joint disaster supply purchase of the Kelvin Smith Library and the MSASS Harris Library.) The few books that were still damp were consolidated and continued to be dried on one table. Books that were dry but were water-stained, needed repairs or had cockled paper needing to be flattened were identified and placed on another cart to go to Preservation for treatment. The dry undamaged books were taken to the sorting room to be re-shelved. The tables used to dry the books were cleaned and disinfected as were the formerly wet shelves in the stacks. Fans and empty book carts were returned to their original locations. Preservation staff took temperature and humidity readings in the wet stack area and set up a recording hygrothermograph (an instrument that records and measures temperature and relative humidity over a week’s time) to make sure the humidity does not get too high. If it does become too high, dehumidifiers are available with the disaster supplies located in a different building.

The Disaster Plan works very well. Because we had the necessary recovery supplies stored nearby, and had clear direction, there were no books lost- and over 1000 books were dried returned to circulation within a 24 hour period. The much appreciated staff and student help was a very critical factor in the quick recovery time. Everyone really pulled together in the face of an emergency for the common good. As far as disasters go, it doesn’t get much better than this!

For more information on library disaster recovery or emergency planning, please see our website or contact the Preservation Department,

Posted by sxg7 at 09:35 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

April 16, 2012

Scholarly Resources & Special Collections Exhibit

No sooner had the tables of the Hatch Reading Room been cleared of the March exhibit celebrating the richness of the Cleveland Playhouse Archives acquisition then the librarians and archivists of KSL's Scholarly Resources & Special Collections team began selecting for display of a number of items illustrating the variety of information sources and services found in the CWRU Archives, Special Collections and Preservation departments.

Staged on April 11th, the one-day exhibit was opened following a lecture entitled "Victorian Serials: Essential Parts of the 19th Century Imagination" given by Robert H. Jackson, noted collector of rare books, who writes and speaks widely in the U.S. and abroad on the history and future of the book and literary culture.

We invite you to take a look at a sample of the exhibit items:

For more information contact Special Collections

Posted by exo2 at 04:25 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

March 07, 2012

O tempora! O lectores!

February brought an interesting array of readers through our doors for a variety of events, highlights of which we note here. The month began with a facilities tour and presentation on the history of the book given to students engaged in IMLS grant activities in the Kelvin Smith Library. The event included an exhibit of items from the Special Collections shelves, including Fifty Original Leaves from Medieval Manuscripts from the Otto Ege Collection and our Flemish Book of Hours.

frontispiece from Mr. William Shakespear's comedies, histories, and tragedies, faithfully reproduced in facsimile from the edition of 1685

Busy times continued with classes held in the Hatch Reading Room including English 310: History of the English Language, and, USSY 286S: Shakesploitation - 400 Years of Marketing Shakespeare. Professors conducting these courses, Dr. Kimberly Emmons and Dr. Barbara Burgess-Van Aken, respectively, worked with Special Collections and Research Services librarians to integrate a number of Special Collections texts into their syllabi, examples of which ranged from a first edition De humani corporis fabrica [1543] to a 20th century reprint of the bard’s first folio. Preparation for such visits would not be complete without a review of our bibliography William Shakespeare: Works Held in the Department of Special Collections- we hope you will take a moment to enjoy it.

A visit from Michael F. Suarez, SJ, University Professor & Director of Rare Book School at the University of Virginia offered an exciting opportunity to join local bibliophiles in enjoying his lecture at the Kelvin Smith Library: “Patrons and Illustrations: 17th Century British Books and Coming of the Enlightenment.” The event offered a fascinating look at the publishers, printers, and readers of that time followed by a spirited Q&A session.

If you would like to know more about Special Collections please be sure to visit our website.

Posted by exo2 at 04:58 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

September 30, 2011

Celebrating Book and Paper Arts with Special Collections


Octavofest returns to Cleveland for the third year and with it come some exciting programing in the Special Collections Research Center.

New this year is a juried art competition calling Cleveland artists to create works inspired by several dozen rare books in our collection. View a sample of these books in an online gallery.


De humani corporis fabrica. by Andreas Vesalius. page 194

All entries will be exhibited in the Kelvin Smith Library Art Gallery during October. Winners of the competition will be announced on October 19th by Arnold Hirshon, Associate Provost and University Librarian of the Kelvin Smith Library at a reception in the Dampeer room following the 3:30 pm talk "Artists' Books, Readers, and Reading," given by Cristine Rom, Gund Library Director, Cleveland Institute of Art.

Additionally, Special Collections will mount the exhibit "Books that inspired the artists for the Juried Art Competition" on October 19 from 9am - 6pm.

For more information be sure to consult the complete list of Octavofest events hosted by the Kelvin Smith Library and join us in our month long celebration of book and paper arts.

Posted by exo2 at 12:57 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

June 28, 2011

Special Collections and the Challenges of Collecting in the 21st Century

It is said that adversity is a fact of life over which we have no control, save for our reaction to it. Last week the 52nd annual Preconference of the Rare Books and Manuscripts Section of the Association of College and Research Libraries met in Baton Rouge, Louisiana to explore the many and varied reactions of Special Collections librarians, archivists and curators to challenges in our field under the umbrella topic of “In the Hurricane's Eye: Challenges of Collecting in the 21st Century”

Unique book catalog/promotional item from RBMS book seller Between the Covers "a fabulous selection of the best first editions in the world, each book presented on a collectible non-sport trading card with a picture on the front and "stats" on the back."

Highlights of the week included four plenary sessions addressing different facets of this theme, including a sobering view of the challenges faced by cultural institutions whose missions have been compromised by such recent man-made and natural disasters as oil spills, hurricanes and floods. The current economic crisis affecting all cultural institutions was of equal concern to those in attendance, providing fuel for discourse and a trove of anecdotal wisdom shared in a continuous exchange ranging over the course of the week.

For all the challenges outlined by plenary speakers, short paper authors, panel discussion leaders and seminar presenters there were ample solutions offered and debated by all conference goers. Group participation is the byword at this annual event, and self examination a respected working tool for the members of this Association of College and Research Libraries section.

The Pre conference is unique in that dealers in rare books and manuscripts are active participants in discussions and presentations as well as hosts to several events throughout the week. One such event is the annual book sellers showcase and Welcome Reception co-sponsored by the Antiquarian Booksellers’ Association of America.

Of interest to Clevelanders may be the Division Leap Gallery, Rare Bookstore and Publisher from Portland, Oregon. Owners Kate Schaefer and Adam Davis (below) were promoting their inaugural exhibition catalog “Art Terrorism in Ohio: Cleveland Punk, The Mimeograph Revolution, Devo, Zines, Artists’ Periodicals, and Concrete Poetry, 1964-2011".

Division Leap owners Kate Schaefer and Adam Davis,
one of the many fine book seller displays at the
Welcome Reception for RBMS 2011 in Baton Rouge

Posted by exo2 at 09:06 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

November 18, 2010

"I cannot endure to waste anything as precious as autumn sunshine by staying in the house" Nathaniel Hawthorne

Though the weather may soon threaten to drive us in doors, we are particularly thankful for the many opportunities provided by the Special Collections Research Center and our colleagues around town that invite us to learn more about our community as winter days approach.

If you are on campus this month be sure to stop into the Kelvin Smith Library and view the exhibit of WWII artifacts and memorabilia assembled by Special Collections Research Center head Susie Hanson entitled “Honoring Our Veterans.“ The display, located in the main lobby, features correspondence, medals, ephemera and service flags from family members who served in the armed forces between 1918 and 1945.

The department has also mounted an exhibit on the second floor of the library, in the casual seating area near the elevators, welcoming Hawken School to University Circle. Founded in 1915, Hawken School is a PS-12 coed day school whose rich tradition of serving our community will now measurably increase with a new commitment to the University Circle neighborhood. On display are histories of Hawken School from our collection, facsimiles of early school records and current information about the renovated Magnolia Drive mansion which houses Hawken’s Sally & Bob Gries Center for Experiential and Service Learning.

A recent renewed focus on The Ernest J. Bohn Housing and Planning Library, with an eye toward increasing patron access to materials via digitization, reminds us that our earliest effort to make Bohn materials available electronically, The Works Projects Administration(WPA) Collection , was posted to our web pages over ten years ago. The images, artist information and scholarly essays that comprise this online offering shed light on an often overlooked chapter of Cleveland history.

After pouring over our online images you may be inspired to visit WPA-era art works around town such as the recently unveiled mural in the Cleveland State University student center ballroom and the tile installation “History of Tremont” at the Tremont Pointe Community Center. Both works were painstakingly restored by the Intermuseum Conservation Association and will once again provide color and a sense of context to our lives as originally hoped by the local artists who crafted them.

From The Works Projects Administration(WPA) Collection in the Special Collections Research Center: "October Twilight" by Clevland WPA Artist Stanislaus Arturo Osweiczynski

Posted by exo2 at 06:45 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

October 19, 2010

Special Collections Research Center Celebrates Book Arts During Octavo fest

Octavo fest is underway in Cleveland with a month long celebration of Northeast Ohio’s book and paper treasures. Museums, libraries, printers, bookbinders and many others who care about and promote book and paper arts have coordinated this rich series of events.

The Special Collections Research Center’s contribution to octavo fest will be a part of a larger University Circle centered event called “An Afternoon/Evening at University Circle.” On Wednesday, October 20th, from 3:00 pm – 4:00 pm, Jamye Jamison, Associate Paper Conservator, ICA, will present “Care and Handling of Paper Based Materials” Kelvin Smith Library’s Dampeer Room. From 4:00 pm – 5:30 pm there will be an exhibit in Special Collections “Significant items from Special Collections” and a tour of the Preservation Department.

Visit the octavo fest site for information on this and all the events for the month of October.


Posted by exo2 at 12:48 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

September 22, 2010

Classroom Instruction in the Special Collections Research Center

Classes are in full swing at CWRU as a new academic year begins. Each semester professors in a wide array of disciplines encourage students to use materials from our stacks by scheduling a class meeting in the Kelvin Smith Library. Recently, Dr. Stephen Hefling and Sue Hanson, Head of the Special Collections Research Center, selected a number of rare music books and manuscripts to complement the curriculum of his MUHI 610 Bibliography and Research Methods in Music course. It was arranged for the students to learn about these materials as part of a class meeting in the library. Most of the time was spent with Music Librarian Stephen Toombs in the Dampeer Room where he taught them about online and print music resources with a break in the instruction to see the Special Collections materials in the Henry R. Hatch Reading Room.

MUHI 610 meets in the Hatch Reading Room

Among the rare music texts and manuscripts used by the class were six rather large (74.5 cm x 53cm) leaves, numbered 86-91, of a Latin missal dating from the late 17th century. Seen in the lower left of the photo below, the inscription written on verso of the last leaf reads: From the old convent of Santiago Tlatelulco, Mexico, 1690. The leaves comprise sections of chants from the first Sunday after Pentecost, the Feast of the Blessed Trinity.

Table display assembled for Dr. Hefling's class

Faculty are encouraged to schedule class meetings in the Hatch Reading Room to take advantage of the rich resources found in the Center’s rare books, manuscripts and special collections. Classes may be developed with customized bibliographies compiled for focused subject access to the collection. Please contact Sue Hanson, Head of the Special Collections Research Center ( for more information.

Posted by exo2 at 06:58 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

May 08, 2009

Special Collections and Partnering for Information Literacy

On May 5th and 7th Special Collections staff and local area high school students met in the Hatch Reading Room as part of a KSL Partnership for Information Literacy project. One of several programs provided by Community Outreach @KSL, Partnership for Information Literacy connects the library with local schools and community groups to provide 21st Century Literacy skills training.

Our visitors were working on an exercise in finding, evaluating and using library resources called “Get a Clue.” CWRU students worked as mentors and guides through the several resource demonstrations in the library. In addition to providing one of the “clues” (a 400 year old book) Sue Hanson, Head of Special Collections, selected items from the collection to illustrate a brief talk on the history of creating information sources, from a 274 B.C. papyrus fragment to our modern Encyclopedia of Cleveland History.

Pictured below are the students and the "clue" they found in Special Collections during their visit.

click on images to enlarge




Students used library tools to search for a 400+ year old book on astronomy and wound up in Special Collections to examine Introductorium in astronomiam Albumasaris Albalachi... printed in 1489.

Posted by exo2 at 02:12 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

April 22, 2009

Recent Exhibits - Writing Week 2009

Our thanks to William Claspy, KSL Librarian, for sending the following images of a display of rare texts from The Kelvin Smith Library Special Collections Research Center. The exhibit was created as part of the Writing Week events held on campus April 15-18, celebrating writing achievements of Case students, faculty, alumni and friends. In conjunction with the week-long celebration, Special Collections staff created the exhibit pictured here in the Hatch Reading Room, and a companion display in the lobby cases on the main floor of the Kelvin Smith Library.

click on images to enlarge

Posted by exo2 at 02:13 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack