I’m not dead.

You might be thinking after months of internet inactivity that I (or my blog) have expired. But this is not the case! You see, I am very much alive and kicking – I’ve just been gravely injured. A few days after my last post, I managed to fracture my left elbow and break my right thumb in a bicycle accident. I was unable to hold my hand flat for typing and general computer operation for a while, but, to tell the truth, I also didn’t feel much like writing during that time.

I was only completely laid up for about a week after the accident, and since then I’ve had an interesting time trying to work around my injuries at the bench. While losing the most important digit on my dominant hand for a time has not been a pleasant experience, it has had the overall effect of improving my manual dexterity. For starters, I had to rely on my left hand almost entirely for a month. I’m not totally ambidextrous now or anything, but I can now complete a solid and attractive page repair using solvent-activated tissue using only my left. Soon after the accident, I also developed new ways of holding tools with the right that didn’t involve the thumb. Now, that the bones have healed, I’m having to re-learn to use the affected joints. The result is a profound change in the way that I approach hand work. Now I have to consider every part of the hand movement, including picking up the tool, how I will hold it, and how I will use it to complete the task. It’s all shifted to more of a higher brain function than a spinal response – and I think that it is allowing me to become more precise and correct some bad habits.

While this blog has been hibernating, I’ve been writing a few things for other virtual venues. I finished a board slotting tutorial for Jeff Peachey’s Board Slotting Blog (found here) and wrote a short piece on a treatment for the Parks Library Preservation Blog (found here).

School is starting again next week and I still have plenty of projects to share from the end of last year. I’m planning on churning out quite a bit here soon, so stay tuned.



Working and Reworking

I started this blog about a year ago as part of my graduate course work in library school. It offered a useful means to report on my project (a condition survey for small collection of European Travel literature in the Rare Book Collection at UNC) and share some of the more intriguing items that I encountered along the way.

And then I had to write my master’s paper and I could not bring myself to use it anymore…

But today the blog is resurrected! Today it is committed to a new purpose. Like a phoenix from the ashes it shall rise up and share ever more amusing and edifying book-related madness to the masses. Or just to the people that I actually know. From here on out, I’ll be sharing my first year work in the bookbinding program at the North Bennet Street School – hopefully as I finish it.  We are on the fourth week of the school year, and I have quite a few books completed already. I have taken some pictures and they will begin appearing here within the next few days.

So please follow along with me on this two-year journey…


Greetings and welcome to my blog!

My name is Henry Hébert and I am a graduate student in the School of Information and Library Science (SILS) at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.  In addition to my studies, I work as  a research assistant in the conservation lab for special collections at  Wilson Library. I am interested in pursuing special collections conservation as a career  and throughout the summer I will be working on a Field Experience with Jan Paris, Conservator for Special Collections. The primary function of this blog is to serve as a reporting mechanism for my progress throughout this project and I hope to document and share my experiences, research, revelations, and results as they occur.I feel compelled to provide a general overview of my project and intentions, as I understand them, alongside these introductions.

The focus of my field experience will be a conservation assessment for a small collection of European expansionist and travel literature. After reviewing available literature on condition assessments, I hope to gain experience in the development of an appropriate survey instrument tailored to the goals of the project. With this survey, I will observe and document the physical condition of each item, providing a fuller picture of the amount and type of work required to stabilize these materials. Where warranted, I will build custom enclosures for items and carry out minor treatments under the supervision of the conservator. At the culmination of the field experience in the fall, I will describe and summarize the survey in the style of a grant proposal.

This field experience provides many unique learning opportunities for me. The first and greatest is also the most ephemeral: the development of a more discerning way of looking at library materials. By physically handling and scrutinizing several hundred information objects over a period of weeks, I hope to gain a greater ability to identify and understand the types of deterioration and damage commonly found in rare book collections. By performing this work under the auspices of a professional conservator, I can begin to develop a methodology in line with the professional and ethical practices of the field. This field experience also grants me the opportunity to participate in the assessment process from start to finish. In addition, my final report will serve as a good exercise in preservation grant writing. After reviewing several library preservation grants, I hope to craft a document that would meet all requirements in content and language.

I am very excited to participate in this project and look forward to acquainting myself with the material. This is my first use of a blog for academic purposes and my first time dealing with WordPress. I am hopeful that this technology will provide an edifying delivery method for my experiences.