The Pilot

On Friday, we completed a pilot of our survey. Jan first selected 11 items from the collection list. After printing blank copies of our survey fields, Jan, Andrea, and I then examined each item and filled in the form. When we had each viewed and recorded every item, we compared our responses.

For the most part, our responses to each survey field were the same. In two instances I marked the condition of the textblock as “extensive” while Jan and Andrea considered it “minor”. It was suggested that I think of the condition of the textblock in context of several factors: damage in proportion to volume size, textblock condition in relation to structural condition, and sewing. First, one must consider the extent and location of damage. It is useful to consider the number of leaves that need repair in relation to the total number in the volume. If this ratio is rather small, then the treatment required can be described as “minor”. For the survey, it is useful to consider the damage of the textblock in light of the “Treatment Level” assigned. I should ask myself, “If a conservator will already need to treat the structure, will the textblock repair be minor or major for them?” Finally, if the sewing of the volume has been compromised, this should be described as “Major Treatment” under “Structure” rather than “Textblock”. While the sewing is technically part of the textblock, it is also structural and the survey is designed in part to identify “who” can do the work. We do not want to confuse extensive textblock repair, that could be completed by a technician, with re-sewing that would probably  be done by a conservator.

In one instance during the pilot, I concluded that a 1/2 leather-bound item with a loose endcap did not need an enclosure. My reasoning was that the volume felt quite stable despite the damage. Jan pointed out that the repair to the endcap could take some time, depending upon its priority and available resources. In the meantime, further damage or loss could occur to the split piece of leather. An enclosure could be created for the item much more quickly and would ensure its stability on the shelf. Jan also reminded me that items with red rot should also probably get an enclosure.

Through piloting our survey, we became aware of certain alterations to be made to our instrument. When I first added the new fields to the Excel sheet, I had placed “Treatment Level” as the first field. This occurred because it was the first field that we discussed. After looking at the items, I realized that “Treatment Level” could only really be determined in light of the condition of the textblock and structure. I therefore felt it more appropriate for this field to appear as the last column in the excel sheet. We also determined that several titles listed in the collection had multiple volumes. Jan suggested that as I encountered these, to simply add another row in the spreadsheet and amend the call number to identify the volume number. At present there are 201 call numbers listed in the Excel sheet; however, because some occupy more than one volume, I will not know the total number of items in the collection until the survey concludes.

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