Library's preservation division celebrates 20 years of restoration and repair
books do not magically reappear on the shelves like new, say employees
of the University Library's Preservation Division. Repairing thousands
of volumes requires hours of arduous labor in a building that few
members of the U-M community know about or have visited.
The University Library will recognize
these efforts at an open house in celebration
of the division's 20th anniversary Sept.
18. From 4-8 p.m. in the Buhr Building,
the public has the opportunity to see
what makes this library system tick.
The system now ticks faster than ever
before. A new piece of machinery, the
Zeutschel Omniscan 7000, is revolutionizing
how information is stored, and the University
is among the first in the country to own
one. The Zeutschel digitizes books and
documents using a new technology that
scans images onto a computer. From there,
images are sent through an optical character
recognition program, using a search engine
to locate specific words or passages.
The images are catalogued and made accessible
to the University community.
In the future, the Zeutschel will replace
the microfilm camera as the primary preservation
technique. By digitizing brittle or frayed
books, this machine ensures that the University
always will have a copy. With the proliferation
of online course materials, the Zeutschel
allows even the oldest sources to be available.
Carla Montori, head of the Preservation
Division, sees the Zeutschel as a welcome
addition to an already stellar facility.
"We've been fortunate that over the last
20 years, the library and the University
have supported the preservation program,"
she says. "It's a huge commitment of money
and expertise, but it's also a huge psychological
commitment to say, 'we will have this
top-notch preservation program.'"
house participants will see the Zeutschel in action. Visitors are
encouraged to bring in documents or photos-8-1/2 by 11 inches or
smaller-for a demonstration. The camera operator will show how the
Zeutschel's measurement tools, book cradle and computer software
all work together to produce a single image onscreen. Participants
can take a copy of their images home as keepsakes.
In addition to the Zeutschel, Montori
and other preservation staff will give
demonstrations of other facets of their
work. The public will see how damaged
paper is preserved, books are re-bound
and wet pages are dried. Participants
also can view samples of the University's
vast collection of papyrus and other early
Shannon Zachary, head of Conservation
Services, also will show participants
how to properly care for published materials.
She says damage to books is largely preventable,
as long as they are used with thoughtfulness.
"It's common sense when you stop to think
about it. There's usually a point when
you realize how easily things can be damaged,"
Zachary says. "It's even as easy as what
jewelry you're wearing when you're handling
a delicate document, because that can
catch and tear."
Zachary hopes the open house will be
an eye-opening experience for participants.
"It's the kind of thing that most people
who use the library take for granted,"
she says. "They don't realize how much
meticulous work is involved in getting
that product on the shelf."